Pearls can be natural or cultured . Most pearls used in jewellery are cultured , as natural pearls are extremely expensive.
The fist cultured pearls were created in Japan in 1893. Cultured pearls are formed when minute pieces of sand grains are inserted into the oyster . The mollusc responds by coating the grains with several layers of nacre . This then forms the pearly layers which can be identified if the pearl is cut open . Many pearl farmers are environmentalists, as oysters are susceptible to pollution , so the health of the oceanic waters is reflected in the quality of the pearls produced.
Pearls were known in China as far back as 2000 B.C. The Romans valued them as a status symbol. Legend states that they were formed from dewdrops which were swallowed by oysters as they fell into the sea. A lovely thought !
They are a birthstone for Gemini and Cancer. They are a symbol of femininity , fertility and longevity.