Pearls are extremely unique, because they are the only gemstone created by a living creature. Pearls form when microscopic irritants become trapped in a mollusk’s shell. The mollusk produces layers of calcium carbonate around the irritants, creating a hard and iridescent surface. Typically, only one pearl is cultivated per 10,000 wild mollusks, making the pearl even more precious.
This is the story of a pearl…
Appearance: The color of a pearl can range from a creamy white to a deep black, but many other factors can alter the color and appearance of a pearl. Akoya oysters are predominantly found in Japan and China, and they produce pearls with a translucent overtone. White and cream Akoya pearls are highly coveted. Some pearls display an iridescent rainbow shimmer. This iridescent coating is called orient, and it is caused by light reflecting on thin layers of nacre that make up the pearl.
Perfectly round pearls are highly desirable, but pearls can also be oval, pear-shaped and even semi-round with rings wrapping around the body.
Origin: There are 3 varieties of saltwater oysters that are known to produce pearls–Akoya, Tahitian, and South Sea. Saltwater pearls only account for 5% of the total global pearl production. Freshwater pearls make up 95% of global pearl production, with the majority being sourced form China. Freshwater oysters can produce a vast number of pearls, especially in comparison to saltwater oysters. Some can even produce 30 to 50 pearls at a time! Due to their rarity, saltwater pearls have a higher value than their freshwater counterparts.
Fun Fact: The La Peregrina pearl is one of the most famous pearls in history! At an astonishing 500-years-old, its past owners include a king of Spain, Napoleon Bonaparte and Elizabeth Taylor. Its name means “the incomparable” in Spanish, and it has a unique pear shape.
Pearls have been said to promote:
- Calmness and inner peace
- Faith, love honesty and purity
- Finding a connection with one’s inner goddess (or ultimate feminine energy)
- Flawless skin
The healing powers of the pearl are said to go far beyond metaphysical properties. In powder form, pearls have been used in Asian medicine since 320 AD. Pearl powder is potent with amino acids, calcium and more than 30 trace minerals. It is especially helpful for the treatment of blemishes, indigestion, osteoporosis, and pain from sores and ulcers.
Pearls in Fashion/Film:
Pearls have been recognized throughout time as a symbol of wealth and status, but when did they become the ultimate elegant fashion statement? When ’50s Hollywood icons, including Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor adorned themselves with strands of pearls in films and photo shoots, the shiny beauties became the object of every fashion girl’s desire, and they’re still going strong to this day as a classic style statement.
Check out our favorite movie moments featuring pearls and the gorgeous starlets who rocked them!
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s | Audrey Hepburn | 1961
- Rear Window | Grace Kelly | 1954
- The Devil Wears Prada | Anne Hathaway | 2006
- Girl with a Pearl Earring | Scarlett Johansson | 2004
Favorite Pearl Quotes:
- “Pearls are always appropriate.” –Jackie Kennedy
- “A woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls.” –Coco Chanel
- “I had just received La Peregrina from New York on a delicate little chain, and I was touching it like a talisman.” –Elizabeth Taylor
- “I favor pearls on screen and in my private life.” –Grace Kelly
Famous Figures with June Birthdays:
- Marilyn Monroe
- Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen
- Vera Wang
- Tory Burch
- Paul McCartney
- Natalie Portman
Create your own pretty pearl pieces at Bead Fest Philadelphia!
Do Dads & What Knots
Instructor: Phyllis Martin-Rennie
Learn how to wrap wire like a pro using crystals and pearls. Walk out with a great bracelet or a one-of-a-kind necklace–the design is up to you!
Amy’s Long Pendant
Instructor: Amy Katz
Long pendants are totally on-trend for 2017! Help make this stunning piece come to life with beautiful seed beads, pearls and crystals.
Instructor: Marla Salezze
Gold and Swarovski pearls? Sign us up! Create this designer-inspired charm bracelet and earring set using basic stringing techniques and basic wire work techniques.
Need more pearls in your life? Bead Fest Philadelphia has you covered!
If you’re aching to add more pearls to your jewelry wardrobe, get your shop on at Bead Fest Philadelphia’s Expo! You’ll find lustrous pearls along with every other gemstone you can imagine!
- Ancient Moon Beads: Bone/horn beads, pearls, pendants, kits, and pearls
- PK Accessories: Japanese freshwater pearls
- Atlantic Gems: Swarovski crystals, sterling silver and plated findings and chain, pearls, and beads
- TA Pearls: Coin, nugget and potato shaped pearls
Extend your passion for pearls into autumn at Bead Fest Tacoma!
Tidal Wave Bracelet
Instructor: Sarah Thompson
Learn to sculpt and add dimension as you weave, all while making this stunning bracelet! Finish off by embellishing your piece with organic extras, including pearls.
Not only are pearls magnificent little bits of shiny goodness, but they’re also downright miraculous! Who would have thought one of our favorite jewelry statements started off as a defense mechanism to protect its creator. If you’re fascinated by pearls–and let’s face it, we all are!–make sure you sign up for one (or all!) of the workshops listed above.
Are you a total pearl girl (or guy!)? Tell us about your fascination for these unique little darlings in the comments below!
July babes, you’re next! Visit us again next month to learn all about July’s birthstone–the ruby.