What do Jackie O., Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie have in common? These ladies are all fans of wearing timeless pearl necklaces.
Whether worn on a wedding day, to a business meeting or to the theater, pearls are second nature to the well-dressed woman. But did you know that since the early 1900s the most exciting new pearls in the world have been cultured? Yes, you heard right. While all pearls grow inside shells – saltwater pearls in oysters and freshwater pearls in mussels – natural pearls spontaneously produced in wild oysters have become virtually unavailable. That’s where cultured pearls step in.
By now, I’m sure you’re scratching your head and wondering how on earth they do it? Well, a nucleus (usually a small round bead) is surgically implanted in the oyster or mussel. As a natural reaction, the shellfish produces nacre to coat the foreign substance. The oysters and mussels are taken to a protected habitat and carefully tended by pearl farmers. While the average cultivation period is one to three years, only half of the oysters nucleated will actually produce a pearl. Tack on the fact that less than five percent will be gem-quality and it’s obvious this pearl-producing business is tough work!
It’s safe to say the end product is well worth the wait. From round and spherical Akoya pearls, colorful South Sea pearls, silver Tahitian pearls, irregular Keshi and Mabe pearls and fashion-forward freshwater pearls, there’s something for everyone.
Now that you know where pearls come from, it’s time try some on for size. Play with different lengths, colors shapes and sizes because that’s what’s hot right now. Mix, match and layer pearls to create a unique look because, frankly, a woman in pearls is simply one of a kind.
- The pearl is the birthstone for June.
- In Roman mythology, Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, enters the world from a seashell just like a pearl.
- The pearl is traditionally the gift of love. It is also the symbol of health and longevity, often associated with purity and wisdom.
- A “pearl” is a term often used to describe something precious and beautiful, the best and most valued.