Everything You Need to Know About Pearl

| 4 min read

Pearls are unique to most other gems and are the true definition of a natural miracle. They are organic creations born under the waves, resulting from a mollusc’s defence mechanism, and come in all shapes, sizes, and colours. 

Here, we delve into the depths of one of the most classic and timeless gemstones.  


Alongside Alexandrite and Moonstone, Pearl is the birthstone for June and the stone given on a couple’s 3rd and 30th wedding anniversaries.


Pearl is an organic gemstone and, therefore, doesn’t have a traditional crystal structure. It is made up of calcium carbonate, which creates the Pearl’s many concentric layers.

Most fascinatingly, though, the gem is formed after a new and potentially threatening object, such as a grain of sand, enters a mollusc’s shell.  

This sand irritates the creature inside the mollusc, so it starts to release a silky substance known as nacre to protect itself. Over time, it continues to wrap nacre around this uninvited guest, and by the time the shell is opened, it will have turned into a beautiful Pearl. 

The development of a Pearl is remarkable, and it only scratches the surface of just how precious a gem it is. 


Pearl Infographic

Crystal System Orthorhombic

Specific Gravity 2.60 - 2.85

Refractive Index 1.52 - 1.69 

Chemical Formula CaCO3 

Composition Calcium Carbonate 


The name ‘Pearl’ originates from the Latin word ‘perna’. Although this directly translates to ‘ham’, the term refers to ‘leg’, specifically the leg-of-mutton shape of a mollusc shell when it’s open.  



Much of the world’s Pearl supply comes from areas around Japan, the Philippines, Australia and French Polynesia. Freshwater Cultured Pearls are formed using freshwater river mussels, and Cultured Pearls are created with saltwater Pearl oysters from the oceans. Thanks to modern science, Pearls are much more attainable now than in the past, when they were strictly reserved for the royal and wealthy.

Pearl Oysters

After years of demand outweighing supply, Japanese entrepreneur Mikimoto Kokichi decided to find a way to cultivate Pearls under human supervision and stabilise the supply. After a breakthrough in 1893, we can now create Pearls in oyster nurseries that are protected and cared for by experts.

Cultured Pearls form the same way as any natural Pearls, just with a bit of guidance from science and humans. Without them, the gemstone would be just as rare, expensive, and inaccessible as it was two centuries ago. 


Pearl inside an oyster

There is currently no scientific evidence to support the metaphysical properties and benefits of gemstones, but this concept is intriguing and worth more exploration. 

Pearls, with a history spanning thousands of years, are among the most precious gemstones ever discovered. They are often referred to as the ‘queen of gemstones’, steeped in myth and legend. One such myth suggests that they bring tears, adding to their mystique and allure. Cultured Pearl 

During the Renaissance period, only the nobility would wear Pearls because of their high regard. Pearls are also thought to symbolise eternal life and, due to their aquatic associations, are said to have a calming effect on the wearer. 

To this day, Pearls are renowned for their beauty and are widely associated with love and marriage. This makes Pearl a popular and traditional stone to give a bride on her wedding day, and the gem can also create luxurious and versatile pieces of jewellery. 



Despite forming underwater, it is not wise to submerge Pearls in water when cleaning them. Instead, use a soft, lint-free cloth to gently clean them and dry them immediately afterwards. Pearls should never be exposed to an ultrasonic or steam cleaner.

If you choose to have your Pearl set into jewellery, a general rule to follow is to make it the last thing you put on in the morning and the first thing you take off at night to avoid exposure to products like lotions, perfumes, and hairsprays.

Pearl Jewellery

Pearls sit between 2.5 and 4.5 on the Mohs scale, meaning even a fingernail can scratch them if they are delicate enough, so they should be stored separately from your other gemstones.  

Despite their delicacy, caring for a Pearl doesn’t have to be complicated. With the proper attention, they can last a lifetime and make a glorious addition to any gemstone collection. 

To add an authentic, sea-born gemstone to your collection, you can shop Pearl right here on GemCollector.

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