Pearls make the perfect gift for babies born in June or under the signs of
Gemini or Cancer. As ancient symbols of purity and innocence, pearls are
traditionally worn by a bride on her wedding day, making pearl jewelry a
great gift to celebrate a bride-to-be or a 1st, 3rd, 12th or 30th
If you’re shopping for perfectly round natural pearls, you’ll need patience
and a large pocketbook. Most pearls on the market today are produced through
culturing, giving pearl buyers a wealth of options.
Most freshwater cultured pearls are made in China, while common saltwater
cultured pearls include Akoya, white or golden South Sea, and black
Tahitian. Colors can range from creamy white to pink, yellow, brown, purple,
blue, green, silver or an iridescent rainbow of hues like a peacock.
Pearls are one of few gemstones not measured by carats. Luster is the most
important aspect of choosing a pearl. The finest pearls are metallic and
reflective like mirrors.
Pearls can range in size from 3mm to 13mm. Because pearls do not require
polishing or faceting like most gemstones, finding a pair of pearls that
match perfectly in size, color and luster can be more difficult and more
expensive. A matched strand of natural pearls may sell for hundreds of
thousands (if not millions) of dollars.
Beware of imitation pearls or shell pearls, which are made from conch shells
or glass coated with a solution containing fish scales. Rubbing two pearls
together will reveal if they are smooth imitation stones, or if they feel
gritty from the nacre that comprises natural and cultured pearls.
Expert gemologists can distinguish natural pearls from cultured pearls by
using gemological X-ray equipment. Natural pearls consist entirely of
concentric growth rings, while cultured pearls have a solid nucleus of the
bead or shell that was implanted to stimulate pearl production.