Interesting Facts About Pearls: The Only Gemstones Extracted From Living Animals

For hundreds of years, pearls have been an important jewelry item for many women around the world.  They come in different colors from white, pink, black and cream and even various shapes; pear, round, oval and irregular shaped as well.

The oldest pearl jewelry ever discovered was found in the sarcophagus of a Persian Princess who passes on in 520 BC. Pearl jewelry is very common from the traditional classics to the more modern styles, and while many people associate pearls with the necklaces, they’re also set in bracelets, earrings, rings and pendant.

Whether it’s a pair of pearl studs or a classic graduated one strand necklace, several women have really admired the elegant simplicity which these gems provide.  However, many people don’t know much about them.  So, here are some of the most interesting facts about pearls.

1. Worldwide, pearls remain the only gemstones to have been extracted from the living animals. Although some oysters die after the extraction of pearl, some mussels remain alive even after pearls’ removal. The pearls collection has been around for more than 4000 years.

2. In 1916, Jacques Cartier, one of the renowned jewelers in the world was able to buy his Fifth Avenue store by trading just two pearl necklaces in exchange for that plot.

3. South Sea pearls are one of the world’s biggest commercially harvested cultured pearls. On average, the size of the South Sea pearl is 13 millimeters, with several harvests generating different sizes ranging from 9 millimeters to 20 mm.

The South Seas lie between the southern coast of China and the northern coast of Australia. These waters are the natural habitat of a large oyster referred to as Pinctada maxima. This oyster can grow up to twelve inches in diameter and can be nucleated with a much bigger bead than other saltwater oysters like the Akoya.

4. For several years and even today, several people still believe that natural pearls are formed when oysters rise to the water surface during dawn and collect many dew drops in their opened shells, that later turns into pearls.

Then from 15th to 17th century, people believed that pearls were nothing but eggs of oysters. Then it was only during the 18th century that pearls were formed due to a parasite intrusion into an oyster.

5. Recently, archaeologists discovered a 2000-year-old pearl in an Australian Aboriginal archaeological dig in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

6. Freshwater pearls account for about 95 percent of global production of pearl but are much less valuable than the saltwater pearls. China produces the massive majority of freshwater pearls in the pearl farms which may range from the fishpond of a farmer to large lakes filled with more than one million mussels. One freshwater mussel will usually produce between thirty and fifty pearls at a time.

7. There are three main types of saltwater cultured pearls: South Sea, Tahitian, and Akoya. They account for about 5 percent of the overall weight of the global pearl production.

Even though they share most of the similar characteristics, they can look largely different since every pearl is sourced from a different oyster species. These oceanic oysters grow only one pearl at a time.

8. Even with cultivation practices, South Sea pearls are incredibly rare. By way of comparison, the weight of diamond production every year is about ten times greater than the weight of the annual Australian South Sea pearls harvest.

So those were the top interesting facts about pearls you didn’t know existed. Hope you enjoyed!

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