Pearl is known as the birthstone of June; it is an organic material and is the only gemstone formed by living animals.
Usually formed in oysters or mussels, pearls begin life as a natural defence against an irritant, for example a grain of sand that gets into the oyster, layers of nacre gradually build up and eventually form a beautiful, radiant pearl. Japanese researcher Kokichi Mikimoto harvested the first perfectly round, white cultured pearls. Cultured pearls are formed with human intervention when an ‘irritant’ is introduced to the oyster or mussel in order to begin the formation of the pearl. Whilst they are still harvested, natural pearls are extremely rare, and a majority of pearls are now cultured.
All molluscs can form pearls, usually Akoya and saltwater pearls are formed in oysters, whilst freshwater pearls tend to come from mussels. However, there are also conch pearls, found in warm Mediterranean seas such as the Caribbean and formed in conch shells, the most sought after colour in conch pearls are a beautiful shade of soft pink.
Pearls are an organic living material, and so should be very well looked afterl. Pearls must always be removed before bathing, and must not come in to contact with any perfumes or cosmetics. Pearls contain 4% water so it is advised not to store them in cotton wool for too long as it could dry them out, also regularly worn pieces should be re-strung once a year.
Pearls are a fascinating radiant gemstone which vary so vastly, everyone can enjoy them.