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Pearl Jewellery

Classic, elegant, and sophisticated, pearls have always been one of the most popular and meaningful gifts. Often given to mark a milestone moment like a Sweet 16th birthday or graduation day, as a Mother's Day gift or as a wedding day gift for the bride or the bridal party, pearl jewellery is a timeless choice that anyone would cherish.

Pearls are also the traditional birthstone for those born in June, and the gemstone for the 30th wedding anniversary. Our pearl guide covers the different types of pearls, how they’re formed and how to shop for pearl jewellery. Read on to find out everything you need to know about pearls.

How Pearls Are Made

Pearls have been cultured and harvested basically the same way for centuries. Whether they are grown naturally in the wild or grown in a lab, the process is the same—the only difference is the time it takes to cultivate the pearl.

Pearls are formed when an irritant, such as a piece of sand, becomes lodged in the shell of an oyster. Sensing the object, the oyster deposits layers of a semi‐translucent substance called ""nacre"" around the intruder, where it builds up over time. It takes years to create a pearl of decent size, and most pearls aren’t perfectly round.

All pearls used in Peoples Jewellers pearl jewellery are cultured. This means that while they are genuine pearls made from natural materials, the pearls themselves are cultivated in pearl farms and the process is overseen and facilitated by humans. The assistance from humans speeds up the process and results in pearls that are better quality.

Pearl Guide

Pearl jewellery is known for being timeless and versatile. Add a simple strand of pearls to formal attire for a touch of elegance, or experiment with the Pearlcore trend by wearing pearl jewellery with more casual, unexpected looks.

Some of the most popular styles of pearl jewellery include a simple pearl necklace, pearl stud or drop earrings, and pearl bracelets. While the pearl is usually the star of the show, sometimes it can be paired with diamonds or other gemstones for a unique look. Because of their neutral tone, pearls can be easily paired with any metal, from yellow or white gold to sterling silver.

Pearls are graded on their quality, colour, lustre, shape, and size. Check out our Pearl Buying Guide to learn more about how to avoid imitation pearls and find a pearl that you’ll love.

The Four Types of Pearls

There are four types of pearls that are often used in jewellery. While they are all similar in how they are formed, they have a few key differences that affect their appearance. Here’s what you should know about the most common types of pearls you’ll come across as you browse pearl jewellery.

Freshwater Pearls

Cultivated in rivers, lakes and ponds, freshwater pearls are the most common type of cultured pearl. They come in a wide variety of colours ranging from traditional white to pastels such as lavender and pink. Perfectly round freshwater pearls are extremely rare, and most will vary in shape and size.

Akoya Pearls

Produced by oysters in cooler salt waters, Akoya pearls were the first type of pearl to be cultured. They are considered rarer because each oyster will produce no more than two pearls per harvest. With their prismatic lustre, slight pinkish hue and almost perfectly round shape, Akoya pearls are considered more valuable than their freshwater cousins.

South Sea Pearls

Cultured in saltwater oysters, South Sea pearls tend to be larger in size at up to 20mm. While they can be cultured, they are very sensitive to their environment, so South Sea pearls are rarer than other types. Their white colour and round or near-round shape also add to the value of South Sea pearls.

Tahitian Pearls

Cultivated by black lip oysters in the warm salt waters near Tahiti, Tahitian pearls range from light grey to very dark grey with overtones of green, pink, blue and yellow. Among the largest type of pearls available at up to 18mm, Tahitian pearls have become less rare because of growing farming efforts.

Gifting Pearl Jewellery

Pearls are a unique yet timeless gift for a range of occasions. As the birthstone for June and gemstone representing 30th anniversaries, pearls can be a thoughtful way to celebrate a milestone. While cost will play a big role in the piece of pearl jewellery you choose, there is a wide range of options that can fit into anyone’s budget. For example, a pair of freshwater pearl stud earrings will be more affordable than a full South Sea pearl necklace.

The great thing about pearls is, like diamonds, they’ll never go out of style, so if you’re looking for a gift that anyone would be happy to add to their jewellery collection, you can’t go wrong with pearls.