Cultured Pearls













Cultured Pearls
Treasures From the Sea

Long known as the “Queen of Gems,” the pearl possesses a history and allure more compelling than any other gem. In fact, a beautifully matched strand of natural pearls is a treasure of incomparable value.  Given the incredible rarity of natural pearls, today’s cultured pearls combine the beauty of nature with the genius of man to create an organic gem available in a wide array of styles and prices. Cultured pearls are formed when a small piece of mantle tissue, a bead, or both is implanted into an oyster. Implanted material encourages the oyster to begin producing a rich and luxurious material, called nacre, that creates the pearl’s lustrous outer glow. Cultivated in both fresh and salt water, cultured pearls come in many different shapes and colors. The most popular shapes have traditionally been round, but more unusual shapes like baroque and button are also available. Colors range from white and cream to gray and black, as well as rich purples, golds and yellows. 

Cultured pearl is the birthstone for June.

Saltwater cultured pearls are produced in the ocean bays, atolls and inlets of Japan, China, Australia, French Polynesia, Myanmar, Indonesia and the Philippines. Freshwater cultured pearls are produced in the lakes and rivers of China and the United States.

Most of the lighter shades of cultured pearls are mildly bleached to even out their color. Cultured pearls are sometimes tumbled to enhance roundness. They may be dyed to produce overtones of pink or strong body colors like teal, magenta or gold. Occasionally cultured pearls are irradiated to create strong iridescence or dark hues like black or gray.

Cultured pearls are softer than most gemstones but durable enough for everyday wear. Because oils, soaps and chemicals can damage the beautiful nacre, you should apply cosmetics, perfumes and hairspray before putting on your pearls. Wipe your pearls with a dry, soft cloth after each wearing. Never clean cultured pearls with any harsh chemical, and only use a commercial jewelry cleaner specifically made for cultured pearls. The safest cleaning method is using a mild soap and cool water solution, wiping with a soft cloth. Always lay strands flat to dry to prevent the cord from stretching. To ensure years of enjoyment, be sure to have your cultured pearl strands inspected regularly and re-strung as needed by a Jewelers of America member jeweler.

Photo: Robert Weldon, Professional Jeweler Magazine   © 2002-2005 Jewelers of America


Member American Gem Society

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rev. January. 2017