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Sam Edelman studded bucket shoulder bag, Rebecca Collins gemstone necklace, Christian Louboutin pointy-toe heels, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Hipstik nude pantyhose, Purple Rain floral sheath dress (all own), raincoat c/o Femme Luxe and pearl studs c/o Wendy Mignot

Pearls are June’s birthstone. The luster of pearls makes them an incredibly feminine and elegant accessory as studs or necklace, no matter whether your birthday is in June. There are so many different colors and forms. This post informs about the origin of pearls, why they are not stones, but gems, why do pearls shine, why do pearls lose their luster, and how to best take care of them. Read what to know about pearls, and benefit from my minor in geology.



Are Pearls a Gemstone?

Despite pearls are June’s birthstone, they aren’t gemstones at all. Whoever came up with the marketing idea of birthstones must have slept in their geology and biology classes.


pearl in shell post banner all you need to know about pearls



What Are Pearls Made Off?

Despite pearls are not gemstones, they are often advertised as gemstones of the sea. The origin of pearls is quite different from that of gemstones. Shelled mollusks and sometimes snails in both freshwater and salt water produce pearls when there is an irritant within their soft tissue. They deposit thin concentric layers of calcium carbonate in micro crystalline form around the irritant.

In the case of natural pearls, it is typical a grain of sand, while in the case of farmed pearls it’s a plastic or marble sphere (see photo of a bisected cultured pearl). In the early last century, glass pearls were used as nucleus. The actual mother-of-pearl layers consist of a form of aragonite and conchyn. Since it’s a living being the layers fail to have the same thickness all around the nucleus.


Bisected cultured Tahitian pearl with marble nucleus. Wmpearl / CC0
Bisected cultured Tahitian pearl with marble nucleus. Wmpearl / CC0


More on the quality of fresh and saltwater pearls.


Why Do Pearls Shine in All Colors of the Rainbow?

The aragonite deposits like shingles with the conchyn in between. This layering breaks the light and causes the shimmering effect of pearls. The color of the pearl itself differs with the waters the mollusks lived in and the species. It depends on the color of the uppermost conchyn layers.


Size and Shapes of Natural Pearls

Natural colors of pearls are pink, silver, crème, golden, green, blue and black. All other colored pearls are dyed. There are eight “basic” shapes: Round, semi-round, oval, drop, pear, button, circled and double bouldered as well as Baroque pearls.

Natural pearls occur in various sizes ranging from a pin to dove egg. The largest natural pearl found so far weights 450 carat (0.2 lb, 90 g). It is in the South Kensington Museum.


Pearls in various colors and shapes. MASAYUKI KATO / CC BY-SA
Pearls in various colors and shapes. MASAYUKI KATO / CC BY-SA



Why Do Pearls Lose Their Mother-of-Pearl?

Conchyn is an organic substance. Therefore, it is subject to aging and drying. First the pearls start getting matt. Next fine tears and cracks form. Finally, the layers fall off and the plastic or glass pearl gets exposed.


There is no way to guarantee how long a pearl will hold its luster. Estimates are 100 to 150 years on average. But many other aspects play a role.


Carbonate is dissolvable in acids. Human sweat is a moderate to nearly neutral acid with pH-values between 4.5 and 7. The pH-values of oily, natural, and dry skin range between 4.0 and 5.2, 5.2 to 5.7, and 5.7 to 7.0, respectively. Most skin care products, hair shampoos, and sprays are moderately acidic too. The pH-values of face toners, for instance, range from 4.0 to 5.0. Moisturizers, creams and sunscreens have pH-values from 5 to 6. For comparison natural rainwater, freshwater and ocean water have pH-value of 5.6, 7, and about 8.5, respectively. Tap water pH-values vary from 6.5 to 8.5.


How to Care for Your Pearls

Due to the sensitivity of pearls to acidity, avoid wearing your pearls on your plain skin or keeping them on when taking a shower or spraying your hair. It’s best to wear your pairs under a collar or with a mock or turtleneck sweater.

Take your pearl rings or bracelets off when you work with chemicals or perform activities wherein they could be scratched.

Gently wipe your pearls with a clean cloth when you take them off. Doing so reduces the amount of acid that may be on them from perspiration, skin products, etc.


How to Best Store Pearls?

Store your pearls in linen or soft cloths fabric separate from other jewelry in a humid environment to avoid scratches (from other jewelry) and cracks from dryness. Don’t put them in a plastic bag or container as their may be airtight. Recall pearls need moisture.


Why to Wear Pearls on Humid, Rainy Days?

Because pearls need humid conditions so the shiny luster does not crack. Typically the air in Interior Alaska is very dry. Therefore, I like to wear my pearls on rainy days. In this LOTD, big pearl studs, and the engagement ring of my late grandma Hannah.

Another reason is that you are less likely to sweat. Sweat is not good for the luster. As a result, don’t wear pearls on muggy days.


style blogger Nicole Mölders in raincoat, white pumps and floral sheath
Classic Euro Chic outfit with pearl studs


zoom-in on gemstone necklace and pearl studs
Zoom-in on Rebecca Collins necklace


over 50 years old woman in trench coat, dress, pumps and pearl ear studs
Sam Edelman studded bucket shoulder bag, Rebecca Collins gemstone necklace, Christian Louboutin pointy-toe heels, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Hipstik nude pantyhose, Purple Rain floral sheath dress, raincoat c/o Femme Luxe and pearl studs c/o Wendy Mignot.


What to Pair With Pearls?

Pearls are key elements of American Classic style as well as of Euro Chic. Because of their feminine vibe they also work with Romantic Style.

They are a woman’s equivalent to the men’s tie in professional style. No matter whether is is business casual style or the typical dress code of corporate style. However, what to pair with them changed over time. Don’t take the looks of the 1960s Mad Man as your inspiration. More, on how to wear pearls the modern way.



Schumann, W., 1976. Edelsteine und Schmucksteine. Alle Edel- und Schmucksteine der Welt 1500 Einzelstücke. Bestimmungsbuch. BLV, München.

Schumann, W., 1990. Mineralien aus aller Welt. Bestimmungsbuch. BLV, München.

Seim, R., 1981. Minerale. Neumann Verlag, Leipzig.


Photos of me: G. Kramm

© 2013-2023 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved

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This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Pearls and opals are very sensitive to scratches and acid.

  2. SO pearls are similar to opals, at least in their need for neutral- pH moisture?

  3. mairakamran11

    Hi Maira Kamran is here.. You look great..! I like that style of pearl, keep sharing…

  4. stinedurfdl

    I always love the cool things that I learn from your posts!

  5. Mr.Rios

    Learned about how to store pearls as well as why; thank you, Nicole, for that well stated lesson! The pearl and onyx/jet necklace is amazingly creative and love the use of an odd-shaped pearl in it! And, as always, love seeing your smile, even when it’s cloudy and rainy over there in Alaska! Thank you for your updates and your fashion savvy!

  6. I have a pearl necklace and I didn’t know that it could damage them to wear them on your bare skin! Good to know!


  7. aquamarinastyle

    I wore my long pearls recently with a slip dress and loved it! I used to wear them to work quite a bit. They are such a timeless look! Great tips on storing them, Nicole!

    xx Darlene

  8. mireilleftm

    That was really interesting! I have a couple of different things with pearls, some from my grandmother. I tend to forget about them but they are so classy!

  9. Pearls are timeless! I haven’t worn my pearl studs in years and need to change that! Love yours!

    Jill – Doused in Pink

  10. Linda Cassidy

    great info on protecting your pearls. I think we all forget they need care