Pearl Anniversary Jewelry

Dear Leslie,
My husband and I are about to celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary. According to some traditions, pearl is the 12th anniversary gemstone. As it is also my birthstone, I feel this is appropriate. My husband told me that he wanted to buy me a nice strand of pearls as a present but is confused about what each type of pearl means. For instance what is natural and what is cultured? He was embarrassed to write you, so even though the gift is for me, I have agreed to write you.
Laurel in San Francisco

Well pearl certainly is a popular anniversary stone. I have seen it listed as the stone for 1st, 3rd, 12th and 30th wedding anniversaries. And it is the June birthstone as well, according to most opinions.Pearl

Now, to answer your question regarding different types of pearls, pearls can be divided into a variety of “types.” The different types of pearls are due to the way in which they were cultivated. As you may know, pearls are made when a lustrous substance, known as nacre, is secreted around a bit of sand or other irritant that finds its way inside the oyster shell. As layer upon layer of nacre coats the irritant, a pearl is formed. This process can take up to seven or eight years.

Cultured Pearl NecklaceThe most commonly heard of pearl types are natural pearls, made solely by the oyster with no human interference; cultured pearls which are made when a human inserts foreign pearl-forming tissue into a living oyster.

Then there are Freshwater Pearls found in freshwater, as their name implies. These tend to have a less perfect, more natural shape to them.

Tahitian PearlsThe other variation is Tahitian Pearls, the name given to pearls when the growth in the oyster is gray or black.

Pearl RingLesser known pearl types include baroque pearls (irregularly-shaped pearls), Biwa pearls (a freshwater pearl from Lake Biwa, Japan), and the unappealingly-named blister pearls which are grown attached to the oyster’s shell.

I hope that your husband finds the perfect pearl for you. Tell him he should write me himself next time, I’ll be kind.

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