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The Facts and Myths About Pearls

The Facts and Myths About Pearls

The pearl is the birthstone for June and symbolizes the wisdom gained through experience. Many believe it attracts luck & wealth and provides protection. While the pearl can also represent the purity, loyalty, and generosity of the wearer, it is also associated with a variety of facts and myths.

Pearl Myths

To start, we’ll cover some of the legends that surround pearls, including:

1. The Persian’s believed pearls were created at the base of a rainbow after a storm; thunder and lighting created imperfections in the gem’s surface. 

2.  In ancient Egypt, pearls were buried with the deceased. According to legend, Cleopatra dissolved a pearl in a glass of wine and drank it to prove she could consume the population’s riches.

3.  Ancient Japanese folklore held that pearls were made from the tears of mythical beings such as angels, nymphs, and mermaids.

Facts About Pearls

These are just a few legends. Here are some modern myths about pearls and the truths that you should know:

Pearls Are White 

Pearls are generally thought of as white and iridescent. However, they are not always white. Depending on the mollusk that created it and the water that animal lived in, pearls can range from pink to brown. Some are even black.

Harvesting Pearls Kills Marine Life

The fact is that about 95% of pearls are cultivated. They’re grown from mollusks implanted with an irritant that starts the coating process leading to pearl formation. Pearl farming, known as periculture, occurs in controlled environments in which mollusks are well-cared for. Not all treated mollusks create a pearl and the quality of each made varies significantly.

Pearls can also be removed without killing the mollusk, so one can create many pearls throughout its lifetime. Naturally occurring pearls are hard to find due to water pollution and a range of environmental factors.

Pearls Are Always Round

The truth is perfectly round pearls are rare. While these are most valuable, pearls are actually found in eight different shapes. These include semi-round, round, drop, pear, button, baroque, circled, and oval. This means there can be different types of pearls to choose from.

Pearls Are Retro

That’s simply not true. Since the earliest days of civilization, pearls have been a popular form of jewelry. Pearl jewelry has been found that dates as far back as 520 B.C. Pearls were also popular during the Roman Empire as well as during Victorian and Georgian times. Today, pearls remain fashionable and are used by luxury jewelry designers.

There Are Different Types of Pearls

This is true. While natural pearls are now rare and most are cultured on pearl farms, you’ll find:

  • Saltwater Pearls: Are cultured in the waters around Japan and China, where akoya cultured pearls are grown. The South Sea pearl is made around Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, while Tahitian black pearls (which can be gray, purple, blue, or green) are grown around Tahiti and other French Polynesian islands. 
  • Freshwater Pearls: Mainly grown in China, these are found in freshwater lakes, rivers, and ponds. They often resemble the akoya, but can be produced in a range of shapes and colors. Cultivators of freshwater pearls often don’t use a bead nucleus; the pearls instead have a piece of tissue that results in a thicker nacre.

Imitation pearls can be encountered as well, and are usually coated glass beads. Their luster can be quite high; it is often challenging to tell an imitation from a cultured or natural pearl. The treatments pearls undergo to enhance luster or color can make it difficult to tell the difference.

Contact Jeweler’s Touch

If you’re shopping around for pearls, diamonds, or other gemstones; precious metals; and custom jewelry, we can help you learn more about them and select the ideal choices. At Jeweler’s Touch, we offer custom design services and a wide range of options. To learn more, schedule an appointment with us online or call our Brea, California office directly at 714-579-1616.

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