Pearl Farming in the U.S.
The two main types of pearls used in jewelry are freshwater and saltwater pearls. Since naturally occurring “wild” pearls are considered very rare most of the pearls in jewelry today are created on pearl farms. Camden, Tennessee is the only freshwater pearl farm in the United States and in all of North America1. As of 2013, the majority of cultured pearls come from Indonesia followed by Australia, the Philippines, Myanmar and Malaysia.
Brief Pearl Background
Pearls are a classic well-loved symbol of beauty and wealth. The earliest record mentioning pearls is a Chinese historian dating as far back as 2206 BC2. One unique aspect of pearls is that they are the only gems created from living sea creature that require no faceting or polishing to give them their unique look3.
What to Look For When Choosing a Pearl
Unfortunately, there isn’t an industry standard for pearl grading as there is with diamonds. Aside from the obvious choosing of a color and size there are a few other things you might want to consider when shopping for a pearl. Some of the aspects that can determine a pearl's quality include shape, nacre, and surface thickness. Nacre is a composite material produced by molluscs that make up the outer “coating” of pearls and gives it that iridescent appeal4. While the perfectly round pearl is considered to be the most valuable there are many varying shapes. Truthfully, it all comes down to preference. When looking for a pearl it’s obvious that blemishes should be avoided and if you are shopping for a necklace it’s also important to note whether the drilling of the pearl is centered. This helps to avoid pearls that don’t lie uniformly.
Color of an Pearl: Most famously - white
Variations on Color: Wide range including pink, silver, cream, green, blue, black, lavender and yellow
Birthstone Month: June
Official State Gemstone: Tennessee
Wedding Anniversary Year: 30th
No matter what your birthstone, pearls are a much loved time-honored classic! June is also one of the months that has a secondary birthstone of alexandrite. This “color-changing” gemstone is indeed unique. Learn more about alexandrite by visiting the GIA website. If you have any questions or are looking for a pearl contact us.
1. "Tennessee River Freshwater Pearl Museum, Farm, Tour". Birdsong Resort & Marina, 2013. Web. Retrieved 28 May, 2014
2. “Pearl”. Gemological Institute of America inc., 2002-2014. Web. Retrieved 28 May, 2014.
3. “June Birthstones". American Gem Society,2014. Web. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
3. “Pearls: How to Spot the Real Deal". ABC News Internet Ventures, 2014. Web. Retrieved May 28, 2014.