Pearls are the only gemstone that are grown in an oyster or another mollusk. A pearl is formed when a foreign substance, usually a parasite (not a grain of sand) enters the soft tissue of the mantle and irritates the mantle. The irritation forces the mantle to release nacre, which is the same substance that lines the inside of the shell and over time the nacre builds up layer by layer. Cultured pears are those pearls where the irritation is induced by human intervention, such as the Chinese cultured pearls pictured above. Imitation or synthetic pearls are made of glass, plastic, or shells. Pearls are said to provide purity, honesty, and integrity. See description of Freshwater pearls.

For pieces that feature pearls, click here.