I myself am not very cultured (haha get it?) when it comes to pearls so I was intrigued by everything I learned, and now I am going to pass it down to you! My faithful and loyal reader(s?).
A natural pearl occurs when an irritant lodges itself into the body of an oyster, the oyster then protects itself by wrapping said irritant in layer after layer of nacre- nacre is that pretty iridescent substance that we have come to know as "pearl"
Cultured pearls have a man made irritant but other than that the pearl making process is exactly the same! Apparently pearl snobs call this "artificial insemination" however even pearl experts have a hard time distinguishing between natural and cultured pearls.
Since the highest trained eye can barely tell the difference between the two it's natural to wonder why some are more pricey than others. Well now I can tell you why! Pearls that have a heftier price tag have been in the oyster for years, inexpensive pearls have only been in the process for a couple of months and will not last long. The nacre in expensive pearls is a lot thicker, and will last a lot longer with the proper care.
Unlike diamonds pearls do not last forever- and to date no pearl has held its luster for more than 500 years. Just like diamonds though- pearls will never ever go out of style!
Some fun little facts:
In some countries pearls are ground up and sold as medicine such as anti-wrinkle cream and nacre (pearls) are 90% calcium carbonate which is the main ingredient in Tums and Rolaids. Basically- pearls aint' gonna help you get rid of wrinkles
Wash your pearls with soap and water and dry them without rubbing them
A pearl necklace should be restrung at least once a year because the silk thread gets dirty and disturbs the pearls "equilibrium" (which is tres tres delicate)
Each years crop of pearls is different- like wine!
Pearls have their own grading system from A to AAA