An organic gem, pearls are the only gemstone made by living creatures and are commonly classified as saltwater or freshwater pearls. June's birthstone, pearls are a symbol of innocence and purity.
Your cart is currently empty.
A cultured pearl is a real pearl that has been intentionally grown and farmed by oyster, mussel, and clam farmers in more than 5,000 pearl farms worldwide.
Cultured pearls are considered to be genuine pearls. They are produced by living organisms and are identical in makeup to a natural pearl. The only difference between natural and cultured pearls is that cultured pearls had a little nudge from humans to start the growing process.
Even though natural pearls are rarer and more expensive, cultured pearls are still considered very valuable. The value of a cultured pearl is generally determined by its size, shape, and overall characteristics, as well as whether the pearl is freshwater or saltwater.
The process of making a cultured pearl begins when pearl farmers introduce an irritant – often a shell bead or a piece of tissue – into the mollusk. The irritant then causes the mollusk to produce a secretion that forms the layers of nacre on the shell bead. (This is the same process that happens in natural pearls, only the irritant finds its way in naturally.) Growing a cultured pearl takes as little as six months, but the longer the irritant is left in the mollusk, the larger the pearl will be.
Until about 100 years ago, all pearl jewelry consisted of natural pearls, whereas today, most pearl jewelry is made up of cultured pearls. For one, natural pearls are extremely rare and nearing extinction. As a matter of fact, it is estimated that only 1 in 10,000 mollusks in the wild will ever produce a pearl and that very few of those pearls produced will be jewelry-quality. Because natural pearls are so rare, nearly all pearls sold in jewelry stores are cultured pearls.
Sometimes, you can visually distinguish between a natural and a cultured pearl. Cultured pearls are primarily spherical and come in various colors, whereas natural pearls are baroque-shaped (not round) and generally off-white.
While professional cleaning is recommended, pearls can be cleaned at home occasionally using warm, mild soapy water. For everyday care, cultured pearl jewelry should be wiped down with a clean, soft cloth after every wear. Cultured pearls should never be placed in an ultrasonic or steam cleaner.
Our jewelry experts always say that pearls should be the last thing you put on and the first thing you take off, as hairspray, makeup, perfume and other household chemicals can damage cultured pearl jewelry.