Pearls are unique among gemstones, in that they are organic rather than mineral. Formed within the soft tissue of living, shelled molluscs, the Pearl is a delicate gemstone with a pearly, iridescence.
There are two types of pearl - natural and cultured. Natural pearls occur in the wild and are much rarer and smaller than their cultured counterparts. Indeed, cultured pearls are the man-made solution to the scarcity of natural pearls. Formed on a pearl farm, cultured pearls make up the majority of pearls on the market today. Natural pearls are therefore more valuable.
Freshwater Pearls are the most abundant and form in irregular shapes. However, advances in freshwater pearl culturing mean such irregularities are now less common.
Sources: Key sources of natural seawater pearls are Australia, Japan, Central America, the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Manaar (between India and Sri Lanka), the coast of Madagascar, Myanmar, the Philippines, the South Pacific Islands and South America. Cultured seawater pearl sources include Southeast Asia, Australia, China, French Polynesia, Japan, South Pacific Islands and the Philippines.
Natural freshwater pearls are found in Asia, Europe and North America, while cultured freshwater pearl sources include China and Japan.
Similar gemstones: As organic rather than mineral gemstones, Pearls are totally unique.
Colour palette: While the most common colour for a Pearl is white, followed by silver, and white or silver tinged with green or blue, this organic gemstone comes in a beautiful array of colours. Salmon, copper, red, bronze, blue, green, brown, cream and yellow Pearls are all popular but the most sought-after are those that are pastel pink, rose, lavender, purple or periwinkle blue.
More information about the Pearl: Pearl is the Birthstone of June, the 30th Wedding Anniversary gemstone and associated with nobility, beauty and peace.