Everything you need to know about June’s birthstone, Pearl

This week, we’re looking into the beautiful world of Pearls, June’s magnificent birthstone, from finding out what is mother-pearl, artificial and freshwater pearl jewellery to looking at some of our favourite pearl jewellery pieces available today.

What is Mother-of-Pearl?

Mother of pearl is the common name for an iridescent nacre coating, a blend of minerals that are secreted by oysters and other mollusks and deposited inside their shells, coating and protecting them from parasites and foreign objects.

How is Mother-of-Pearl Different from a Pearl?

A pearl is also composed of nacre. When a pearl is formed, a layer of nacre is deposited around a tiny particle that becomes lodged in a mollusk, either naturally or inserted by a human. Eventually, this nacre builds around the small object and becomes a pearl. This outer coating of a pearl, despite being composed of nacre, is not referred to as mother of pearl. 

In jewellery terms, mother of pearl usually references the thin nacre coating that is adhered directly to the mollusk's shell. However, not all mollusk shells have a nacre coating. The primary distinction between a shell that has a mother of pearl coating and a shell that does not is the iridescent quality.

What are freshwater pearls?

Freshwater pearls come from freshwater mussels. Produced in Japan and the United States, freshwater pearls are most exclusive to China. Chinese freshwater pearls are more affordable, longer-lasting and come in a wider variety of colours than its cousin: the saltwater pearl. Freshwater pearls have a very thick nacre layer, which gives them a beautiful luster and shine.

You can harvest as many as 30 pearls out of one mussel. As the mussel gets older, it produces higher luster pearls. 

What are Akoya Pearls?

The akoya pearl is a saltwater cultured pearl from the akoya oyster (Pinctada fucata martensii). Akoya are considered to be the classic pearl used for necklaces and other pearl jewellery, with perfect round shapes, bright mirror-like luster and neutral colours

What are Black Pearls and Tahitian pearls?

Tahitian pearls or as they are sometimes called Black pearls, are grown in French Polynesia, a group of 5 island archipelagos that covers the size of Europe.


When discussing the colour of Tahitian pearls(or pearls in general) the term "black" is used to describe pearls with dark body colours. It could be blue, purple, green, brown, silver - but never a true black. Tahitian pearls are bead nucleated, which means the pearl farmer will very skillfully insert a round shell bead inside the oyster with the hope that the oyster will produce a round pearl.

Whilst the bead does increase the chance of a round pearl, mother nature is still in charge, and less than 10% of harvested pearls will be round.

The shapes will normally fill into 4 categories: round, near round, baroque and circle (a type of baroque pearl).

If you’re interested in visiting our showroom in the heart of Hatton Garden to see any of our pearl jewellery, simply book an appointment online or give us a call on 0203 116 0069 and speak to one of our friendly, expert members of staff who can help guide you through any type of jewellery purchase.

We’ve helped 1000’s of customers over the years design custom rings (with our design your engagement ring service), choose the perfect present for an anniversary, sell jewellery and choose jewellery for many special occasions, so if there is something you’d like but can’t see online, we’re confident we can make it to your exact needs, just get in touch.

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