Why are Pearls so Precious?

pearls.jpgThough classified as a gemstone, pearls are extremely unique, largely due to the fact that they are the only gem material formed and found within a living creature. Unlike diamonds, rubies, emeralds and more, pearls require no cutting or polishing before use and are simply stunning the way they naturally form.

Pearls are rare; only one in several million shellfish yield a pearl. However, cultured and farm-grown pearls are common, which is why we still see them featured on jewellery all over the world. As one of the most ancient gems, pearls have been a jewellery statement for over 6000 years, with records dating back to 13th Century China. As the June birthstone, pearls appeal to many people for their stunning qualities and value.

Pearls are formed when an irritant, which is usually a grain of sand or similar, gets deep enough inside the shell of a mollusc that it cannot eradicate it. This causes the shell to produce more nacre, which coats the irritant. Nacre is the shiny substance that is found in the interior of most shells and is composed of the mineral aragonite and conchiolin. A large amount of nacre that forms around the irritant over time eventually becomes a pearl.

Natural pearls can be found in a range of colours including white, black and coloured. Where white pearls are the most common, coloured pearls are more frequently seen in freshwater pearls. Pearls that are dark in colour have dark conchiolin in the core of the gem, which shows through the thinner layers of aragonite.

Pearls are largely thought of as a feminine jewellery piece and are often marketed to weddings, fertility and love. The 1800’s saw an almost disappearance of natural pearls due to over-harvesting, which has meant they have remained extremely rare even today. Due to the exhaustion of natural pearl sources, cultured pearl production began in Japan in the early 1900’s. It was then that people realised pearl farming made it possible to produce large quantities of the gem in bigger sizes.

Here at Cuttings, we stock some beautiful jewellery pieces featuring pearls. Take a look at these stunning diamond and pearl earrings and this vintage 18ct gold, pearl and diamond bracelet- both available now!  

If you need some advice on how to look after pearl jewellery or for more information on the stock we have available, get in touch with the Cuttings team by visiting our contact page

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