• Pearls are the only gemstone made by living animals.

• Harvesting pearls from mollusks does not kill the animals, as they can be re-implanted and used to make more pearls.

• Akoya, or saltwater pearls come from oysters, but freshwater pearls usually come from mussels, although all mollusks can make pearls. • Pearls take their color from the inside of the shell in which they are growing. They range from white to gold, and from purple to black.

• Virtually all pearls today are “cultured” or “cultivated”. Harvesting “natural” pearls was compromised by water pollution, tsunamis, and other phenomena that made it difficult to leave the oysters safely in the water long enough to grow sizeable pearls.

• Every pearl is unique. No two are alike, and all have some imperfections. • The oldest known pearl jewelry fragment was found in the sarcophagus of a Persian princess who died in 520 BC.

• Cleopatra won a bet that she could provide Marc Antony with a banquet costing more than the assets of a country. She took off a pearl earring, dissolved it in wine and drank it.

• Pearl farming is know as “Periculture.”

• In 1916, Jacques Cartier bought his 5th Avenue store by trading two pearl necklaces for the land.

• Pearls are created when a mollusk gets a small particle trapped inside its shell, or in the case of cultured pearls, a tiny seed is implanted in the shell. As a protective measure, the mollusk then coats the particle with a material known as nacre.

Virtually all pearls (about 95%) harvested today are cultured or cultivated pearls, meaning mollusks are artificially implanted with small seeds and tended to in a farm. It is very rare to find a pearl of a large size nowadays that has been formed naturally. Natural pearls have been harvested from the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf, and the Red Sea for thousands of years.