by Jessica Gezon
When it comes to defining classic jewelry, no list is complete without pearls. No woman's collection is complete without an elegant pearl necklace and matching pearl earrings or a pearl bracelet. The unique way a pearl is formed makes it a standout among other gemstones. Keep reading for the top five things to know about pearls.
Pearls are formed by living creatures: Rather than forming in the ground like most gems, a pearl is formed when an impurity invades the shell of an oyster or other mollusk. Layers of nacre collect around the particle and, over time, form a hard shell with an iridescent sheen; this hardened impurity is better known as a pearl.
There are several types of pearls: The two most common types of pearls are cultured and natural. Natural pearls are ones that occur when a small impurity, like a grain of sand, enters the shell of a mollusk naturally. Because there's no way to tell in advance if a shell contains a pearl, natural pearls are the most difficult to acquire. Cultured pearls are formed in exactly the same way as natural pearls, but the initial impurity is inserted into the shell to start the pearl growth. The final shape of the pearl will depend on the size and shape of the initial impurity. All pearls are either natural or cultured, and depending on the location of the mollusk that created them, they're either saltwater or freshwater pearls. Freshwater and saltwater pearls don't necessarily look very different from one another; the difference is in their genesis.
There's never a bad time to give pearls as a gift: While beautiful, pearls are considered somewhat delicate, especially in comparison to diamonds or sapphires. The perceived delicacy of pearls makes some women wary of wearing them and some men hesitant to give them as gifts; don't be afraid: There's never a bad time to give pearls as a gift. Pearls are the birthstone associated with the month of June, as well as the traditional gift for a 30th wedding anniversary. Pearls are also the perfect gift to welcome a young woman into adulthood, giving her a cherished piece of pearl jewelry she can enjoy for a lifetime.
Pearls require some special care to look their best: With proper care, pearls will last for years. Many of the natural pearls available today are vintage pearls; invest in an elegant strand and you can pass it down for generations. Pearls, because of their organic nature, are somewhat fragile. To keep them looking their best, put them on after you're finished applying make-up, lotion and hairspray. Wipe them with a soft cloth before you put them away after wearing and allow them to dry completely before storing if they've gotten wet over the course of the evening.
Wear your pearls before a big event to ensure they look their best: Many strands of pearls feature a knot design; this means that the cord on which they're strung features a knot between each pearl. The knot ensures that you'll lose only one or two pearls instead of all of them if the cord breaks and also prevents the pearls from rubbing against one another and wearing away. The tightness of the knots can make a pearl necklace hang strangely at first, so make sure to loosen them by putting on your pearls and wearing them around the house before debuting them in public.