Fun Facts About Pearls



People have treasured pearls for centuries. These beautiful, shining gems have a long and interesting history. Here are some interesting facts about pearls that you may not know!


  • You probably already know that pearl is a birthstone for June babies, but did you know that pearl is the official gemstone of Alabama? Or that it is also the official gemstone for the Philippines?


  • Pearl jewelry pieces are considered the traditional gift for those celebrating their 30th anniversary.


  • Pearl was given its name from the Latin word 'perle,' which means a small round object. The English word 'pearl' comes from the Old French word, 'a foreign body found in oysters.'


  • Pearls are the only gemstone made by a living creature - they form inside oysters, making them organic gems.


  • Each type of pearl takes a certain amount of time to develop; however, it can take anywhere between 6 to 24 months to produce one pearl!


  • The first cultured pearl was the Japanese Akoya pearl. Before that, pearl divers generally had to go into deep and dangerous waters to retrieve pearls from oysters, with only about half of all pearl divers surviving the task.


  • A natural pearl of value occurs in less than 1 in every 10,000 wild oysters.


  • Since natural pearls are one of the rarest jewels in the world, pearl manufacturers use pearl farming to make more for the gem market. Since the pearl farming process is efficient, cultured pearls are more accessible than their natural counterparts.


  • Thus, the value of natural pearls depends upon rarity. In contrast, the value of cultured pearls comes from their symmetry and sheen rather than scarcity.


  • Today, most pearls are cultured.


  • Chinese freshwater pearls can grow up to 5mm per year, while Japanese Akoya pearls only grow up to 0.3mm.


  • Akoya, Tahitian, and South Sea pearls account for roughly about 5% of the total weight of global pearl production. Freshwater pearls account for approximately 95% of global pearl production but are less valuable than saltwater pearls.


  • South Sea pearls produce the largest pearl sizes.


  • Most freshwater pearls on the market come from China's pearl farms. These pearl farms can range from a farmer's fishpond to massive lakes filled with over a million mussels!


  • While oysters are the most famous pearl-producing creature, only saltwater pearls come from them. Mussels are responsible for freshwater pearls. Other mollusks that produce pearls include clams, abalone, and the queen conch.


  • While all mollusks, including oysters, mussels, and clams, can technically create pearls, only some saltwater clams and freshwater mussels can commercially grow cultured gem-grade pearls.


  • A pearl oyster can produce up to 10,000 pearls in a single year.


  • Pearls come in various hues, including white, pink, gold, blue, lavender, chocolate, and black.


  • The color of South Sea pearls depends upon the oyster's lips! Black sea pearls form in the waters of Tahiti and Okinawa from black-lipped oysters. The silver-lipped oyster produces white pearls with a satiny luster. Golden-lipped oysters have warm, natural golden pearls.


  • White pearls come from freshwater, Akoya, and white South Sea varieties, although Tahitian pearls occasionally produce white pearls. The most valuable and luxurious are white South Sea pearls, whereas Akoya pearls are the most popular.


  • The discovery of pink pearls occurs in freshwater mussels, typically mined in China. Pink pearls are a rarer variety than white pearls, making them more valuable.


  • Natural blue pearls, which are exceedingly unusual, maybe the rarest hue. These pearls are so uncommon that finding them is difficult. They can command high prices, especially if they're South Sea or Tahitian blue pearls.


  • Lavender pearls come from freshwater mussels and are similar to pink pearls. Natural lavender pearls have a lovely deep color, sometimes with undertones of green, blue-green, and sometimes rose and gold.


  • Chocolate pearls, which have a dark brown, almost metallic appearance, are one of the rarest and most intriguing pearl hues. The majority of chocolate pearls grow to reasonable sizes, with an average diameter of 12.0mm.


  • There are only two places in the world where black pearls naturally form: Sydney, Australia, and the South Pacific Ocean. The latter is where the most available pearls come from. Those that form in freshwater lakes and rivers are not real pearls because they form because of layers of tiny mollusk shells compacted on top of each other.


  • Pearls are available in eight basic shapes: round, semi-round, button, drop, pear, oval, baroque, and ringed.


  • Perfectly round pearls are very rare and the most valuable.


  • Pearls have some negative symbolism attached to them. For example, it's believed to be bad luck to wear pearls on your wedding day or receive them as a gift. No one seems to care about these superstitions now, judging by how popular bridal pearl jewelry is.


  • While the primary objective for harvesting and cultivating pearls is for use in jewelry, you can also find crushed pearl powder cosmetics, medicine, and paint formulations. Pearl powder, made from pearls that do not meet the grading A system of luster, shape, color, surface, and size, is widely used to keep skin healthy in Asia, clearing up acne, healing scars, sun spots, and reducing sun spots lines and wrinkles.


  • The world's most expensive pearl is worth $100 Million and comes from a giant clam; it was kept under its owner's bed for almost a decade as a good luck charm; officials didn't discover it until 2016.


  • Kokichi Mikimoto, who invented cultured pearls, believed that pearls aid longevity. He ate two pearls every morning for longevity and lived 96 years.


  • In ancient Roman times, the Romans believed pearls symbolized wealth and prestige. Possessing pearls meant you belonged to a certain elite class. That explains why the famous Roman ruler Julius Caesar created a law stating that only aristocrats could wear fine jewels.


  • According to legend, Cleopatra was known to have owned two of the world's largest pearls, which she wore as earrings. She instructed her servants to bring her potent vinegar and then dropped one of the pearls into the vinegar, dissolving it. She continued to drink the world's most expensive cocktail. She did this to show Marc Anthony that she could devour the wealth of an entire nation in just one gulp. The world's most expensive cocktail, indeed! 


  • The most expensive pearl jewelry ever auctioned? The famous La Peregrina (The Wanderer), which last belonged to Hollywood royalty, Elizabeth Taylor.


  • Before that, La Peregrina changed hands from Queen Mary of England to Napoleon Bonaparte of France and many other important historical figures. But La Peregrina is more than just a pretty face. This pearl has been through a lot, surviving wars, revolutions, and even a shipwreck.


  • History has it that Pierre Cartier bought his famous 5th Avenue Mansion by bartering a double strand natural pearl necklace for it back in 1912. Pierre Cartier's pearl strands were valued at $1 million, while the mansion was worth $925,000.


  • Pearls symbolize purity, clarity, and loyalty, according to the legend.