Pearls are adored around the world for their beauty and elegance, and in some cases, their rarity. Frequently used to adorn necklaces or earrings, pearls maintain a distinction that other gemstones cannot – they are created by living creatures. Unlike other gems, they are not minerals, but come from oysters and even clams and mussels, although this is much rarer. In addition to their unique creation, pearls have been hailed for centuries as natural healers, making their metaphysical properties just as important as their physical beauty. Keep reading to learn more about July’s gemstone that is unlike any other.

How Pearls are Formed

We’ve already discussed that pearls are found in mollusks, usually oysters. While clams and mussels will also occasionally create the small gems, this doesn’t occur often. The formation of the pearl actually occurs because a foreign particle has slipped inside the mollusk. This particle is an irritant to the mollusk, so it secretes a substance called nacre around the particle to protect itself. Layer upon layer of nacre forms around the irritant, resulting in the pearl. In addition to pearls that are created in the wild, many (most, actually) are also man-made. Cultured pearls, as they’re known, are formed the same way, the only difference being that the pearl harvester is responsible for introducing the irritant into the mollusk to form the pearl.

Physical Properties and Appearance

While most people picture small, round, white or ivory-coloured bead when they think of pearls, this unique gemstone actually comes in a variety of hues and shapes. In addition to hues of white and ivory, pearls can also be found in shades of blue, pink, purple, peach, green, black and gold. Pearls exhibit a glossy and lustrous appearance as well and can range in size from quite small (about the size of a BB) to much larger (about the size of a dime). In terms of shape, pearls can be round, oblong, or free-form, meaning they have a wholly unique shape.

Value

The value of a pearl is largely dependent on whether it is natural or cultured, with natural pearls carrying greater intrinsic value. Other factors that determine a particular pearl’s value include colour, size, luster, surface quality, and nacre thickness. Unlike other gemstones, there is not a standard grading system for pearls, making it somewhat difficult for buyers to determine a pearl’s true quality/worth.

Healing Properties of Pearls

In addition to their unique formations, the metaphysical properties of these natural wonders are equally as fascinating. For centuries, people have turned to pearls to calm and center themselves. Women in particular have used the gemstones to connect with their inner femininity, as pearls are said to be a link to a woman’s “inner goddess.” For physical illnesses, pearls have the reputation of assisting with digestive disorders, heart problems, eye ailments, and improving the skin. Pearls have also been used to help with fertility and to ease pain during childbirth. Widely viewed in assisting with the “matrix of life,” pearls are thought to help balance all aspects of the body – physical, mental, and emotional.