Pearls: The Queen of Gems

Pearls or diamonds?

Diamonds might be a girl’s best friend, but pearls make a statement of class and confidence; maturity and softness. Pearls pair perfectly with a cozy knit or a cocktail dress. They make meaningful gifts—especially for family members.

Although, we don’t think you need a special occasion to invest in pearls!

The What, Why, and How of pearls

We love to educate and inspire our shoppers when it comes to investing in new pieces, whether that’s a great pair of pants or a statement necklace. With longer days and spring arrivals, we’ve been dying to talk about pearls!

Most people understand the value of an ideal cut diamond, but how much do you know about pearls? Keep reading to learn about their origins, symbolism, and the beautiful variations.

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The significance of pearls

A pearl is more than a fashion choice. It’s a natural treasure formed by the sea. It is a symbol of wisdom and protection. It is “The Queen of Gems” often passed from mothers to daughters as family heirlooms.

Nobody knows when exactly pearls were first discovered. Shrouded in the mystery of their unusual origins, they became a focal point in mythology of cultures around the world. We know Ancient Rome and Egypt saw these soft gemstones as beautiful and valuable. We know they found a place in Hindu, Islamic, and Christian traditions, among others. We know European royalty treasured elaborate pearl necklaces and glimmering brooches crafted from the smooth gems found in the sea. Now, we know we can't keep enough pearls in our store!

A single pearl takes years to grow. Due to the combination of their popularity among nobility, their uniqueness, and the time required to mature, pearls were traditionally reserved for the wealthy. They were a status symbol until the farming of cultured pearls in the early 20th century. With the advent of pearl farming, average people could afford to purchase strings for themselves.

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Pearls in nature

Natural pearls are an anomaly. They form when an irritant—like a grain of sand—sneaks inside an ordinary oyster. The oyster itself doesn’t appear special. Within the protection of the shell, nacre deposits around the pearl. Nacre, also known as mother of pearl, is produced by the oyster to protect against the contaminant. As the oyster protects itself, it entombs the irritant in multiple smooth layers. Farmed pearls follow an identical process, but the irritant is planted by humans.

The result is the familiar iridescent little spheres we string into necklaces. However similar, no two pearls are alike. The type of pearl formed depends on the mollusc itself as well as the location. Fresh or salt water. The conditions of the water. Natural or cultured. Even harvesting techniques impact the soft gem.

For example, baroque pearls are irregular in shape, but much more common in freshwater oysters. As for colour, there are too many shades to name. At Ginger Laurier, we bring in only natural pearls in a handful of colours. Our favourites are classic white, peacock pearls, black pearls, and pink pearls. Each colour represents a different meaning for the wearer.

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Pearls in fashion

Today, pearls are making a comeback as a classic fashion statement. In the 60s and 70s, Add-A-Pearl necklaces were the latest trend. Now, designers like Chan Luu are incorporating natural pearls into more modern pieces. Long and luxurious necklaces, or simple fabric chokers with a single pearl at each end. Pearl earrings—both large and small. Coloured pearls strung into bracelets, or tiny pearls woven with other gems and crystals, wrapped in layers around wrists. Can you tell we love these water-born gems?

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Are you a pearl or a diamond girl? Let us know in the comments! We love to hear about what our shoppers are currently loving.


At Ginger Laurier, we try to stock a large selection of pearl jewellery for our shoppers. Partially because we think you will love them, but also because we love them too! Follow us on Instagram or visit us in store to see our current favourites.