What is a Pearl Gemstone?The pearl is unique among gems in that it is not a stone at all. Instead, it has a biological origin, being produced within living shelled mollusks, rather than being mined. The rarest pearls of the highest quality are those that are created naturally, however they can also be cultured or farmed. True pearls will always have some link to their biological creation, with imitation pearls being entirely man-made and of much lower quality, and value.
Originally, it took the gathering and killing of hundreds of pearl oysters before a single pearl could be found, which explains why they were deemed so valuable, and so incredibly rare. Farming pearls, both cultured saltwater, and freshwater have seen huge advancements in quality, and affordability, bringing the pearl to more mainstream access.
Pearls, be they wild or cultured, will almost always be strong, resilient and iridescent, mimicking the interiors of the shell which created them. Natural pearls can range in colors (white to golden, to pink to black), though they can also be dyed various colors.
Thanks to their biological origins, pearls can also come in a variety of shapes, including round, semi-round, button, drop, pear, oval, baroque, circled and double-bouldered.
To determine if a pearl is real or imitation, cultured or wild, they can be x-rayed. Pearls with a nucleus are normally saltwater pearls, whereas if there is no nucleus, and there are irregular, small dark spots, the pearl is likely freshwater. Natural pearls oftentimes show larger cavities than their cultured counterparts, showing where the original organic matter had decomposed.
- Birthstone month: June
- Zodiac sign: Gemini
Pearls share their June birthstone designation with Alexandrite.