Most people are very familiar with the pearl as one the birthstones for June. Alexandrite and Moonstone are the other two gemstones. Pearl, with its variety of color and shapes, is an organic gem loved and treasured for centuries. It is said that the Romans built armies from the sale of a single pearl while poems abound about its transcendent beauty.
The pearl was selected as a birthstone for June by the American National Association of Jewelers in 1912. Not only can you select your favorite pearl as a birthstone, you can also receive a pearl for your 3rd, 12th and 30th wedding anniversaries. The allure of pearls is far reaching.
Pearl is considered to be organic since it is formed inside mollusks such as oysters and the mussel. An irritant, perhaps a bit of sand or a stone, can get inside the shell. Nacre is then secreted around this irritant creating a lustrous substance. Layers upon layers overlap to create an iridescent luster. A pearl can take up to 8 years to be created. Principal oyster beds are in The Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean primarily along the coasts of Sri Lanka and India, as well as the Red Sea. Japanese pearls are found near the coast in salt water. Polynesia coasts and Australia produce cultured pearls.
Types of pearls are extensive ranging from the natural to cultured (when the irritant is placed by man inside the living oyster), to baroque, Biwa, blister, black, Freshwater pearls, seed and mabe pearls. China and Japan cultivate freshwater and cultured pearls. Freshwater pearls also occur in the rivers of Germany, Austria, Scotland, Ireland, France and the USA (Mississippi). Colors range from white and creams to pinks and iridescent black.
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