Welcome to Pearl University–where pearl buyers go to increase their knowledge in the pearl buying experience. No more guess work on whether or not you are purchasing a “real or fake” pearl. No more questions on whether or not to wear your pearls in the shower or hot tub (DON’T!!) And no more wondering on whether that weird looking shape in that odd pistachio color is an ACTUAL pearl (it IS!!)

Pearl University will give you the added edge of knowing which lengths and styles to choose from based on YOUR day to day life-style. And the best part? No tuition, no textbooks and no final exam!

Go through and browse the topics. Discover the answers that will arm you with the knowledge you need to purchase your genuine pearls with confidence.

Click below to browse the varied topics of “All Things Pearls”!

History of Pearls

Pearls, magical and stunning natural gemstones are valued in many cultures and places around the world. Throughout history, cultures have created stories of how pearls have been created, introduced, and symbolized through time. They are known as the oldest gemstone in the world. Almost all other stones must be mined, cut, and polished to reveal their beauty, but the pearl’s beauty is natural.

Historically, the wearing of pearls was limited to royalty and wealthy nobility, as they were far too expensive for anyone else to afford. During Roman times, only people above a certain rank were allowed to wear pearls. Pearls have played a significant part in many cultural histories; here are a few fun examples of how pearls have been an influential factor in world history:

In the America’s, pearls were considered sacred and very valuable. In the time period of Pocahontas, supposedly her father Powhattan had large stores of pearls that were used for the traditional custom of giving tributes to another. For Native Americans, pearls not only symbolized as sacredness, purity, and integrity, they were also known to help the body, stabilizing balance and energy. In earlier time periods, people in India and other inhabitants of Asia, would use pearls as forms of medicine. They would use these precious gemstones for curing insanity, aphrodisiacs, and elements in potions and balms to treat a variety of other conditions.

In the Dark Ages, it is claimed that pearls were valuable and sentimental for knights traveling to the East in search of the Holy Grail. Noble knights also believed that these natural beauties possessed special powers that would protect them during battles. Pearls were commonly worn and given as tokens of protection and wealth and were worn by many fair maidens and royalty whom prized their pearls.

Are Semi-Precious Gemstones Still Precious?

Two major classifications exist for gems: precious and semi-precious. Only four gems are classified as precious: diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds. What about pearls? Amethysts? Jade? Obviously, these gems have value. Depending on the gems scarcity and quality, some gems can even be considered more valuable than those classified as precious gems. Overall, precious gems are valued because they are have a higher hardness rank and are scarce.

Overall, semi-precious stones retain their value in other ways, particularly in the world of healing. Most semi-precious stones are well known for their healing properties in specific and targeted areas of the body. This makes them very precious indeed. For instance, carnelian is famous for increased energy and appetite, citrine is great for depression and digestive problems and Sodalite helps thyroid and throat problems (a soft voice, the ability to persuade via conversation and strong convictions).

In the semi-precious gemstone world, gem experts will spend thousands of hours learning the properties of these stones that will link healing within the body. The seven famous general areas are known as Chakras. Based on Indian Ayurvedic tradition, these seven particular Chakras are associated with a specific gemstone which, when worn, will promote healing and balance within that particular Chakra. Click here to read more about Chakras.

What Are Cultured Pearls?

Cultured pearls are grown under the care and supervision of a pearl farmer. Natural pearls are grown in the wild and are hunted and harvested. Because of the time and expertise taken to acquire natural pearls in a shape usable for jewelry, natural pearls are significantly more expensive.

It is important to note that whether a pearl is cultured or natural, both are indeed real pearls, not imitations. The difference is simply process and location. In nature, pearls are formed when an irritant, such as a grain of sand or piece of shell, enters the mollusk. The mollusk then coats that irritant with layers of nacre which are secreted over the course of time. This nacre creates the luster which is the shine that gives the pearl its value and beauty. The longer a mollusk is left to secrete this nacre, the larger the pearl will become, reaching 8-9mm in size over the course of 5-6 years. A pearl farmer will simulate this process by introducing their own irritants to the mollusks. This process allows the pearl farmer to have more control over the end shape as well as the depth of luster the pearl will produce.

Saltwater or Freshwater

Many people ask the question, “What is the difference between a fresh and saltwater pearl”? The main difference is the body of water the mollusk is living in (saltwater oceans vs. freshwater lakes). Another difference is that a freshwater mollusk will produce 9-11 pearls over the course of its lifetime. A saltwater produces only 1-3.

Saltwater pearls are more costly than freshwater pearls because they take years longer to form than a freshwater pearl and because of their smaller production quantity. Freshwater pearls can come in more diverse shapes with various blemishes.

Because pearls are a “water-gem” they are already a softer gem than the semi-precious and precious stones such as diamonds (hardest) rubies and emeralds. Freshwater pearls are also softer than saltwater pearls and will be more sensitive to showing lines and scratches. Freshwater pearls are traditionally semi-round or spherical. However, current culturing techniques have brought more freshwater pearls closer to those same round qualities found in saltwater pearls at a lesser cost. Both salt and freshwater pearls will come in various shapes, the most common being round or teardrop. Saltwater pearls will traditionally have a higher luster value (shine) to them compared to most freshwater although a high-grade freshwater pearl will look very similar to some saltwater pearls.

Other Varieties Black pearls, or Tahitian Pearls are cultured exclusively in the Pinctada Margaritifera, a mollusk native to the South Sea Ocean around Tahiti and the Cook Islands. Tahitian Pearls can have a lot of variation from pearl to pearl. Round and semi-round pearls are highly sought after. Tahitian Pearls come in colors such as peacock, golds, grays and of course, black.