Classic, elegant and always sophisticated, pearls have always been one of the most popular and meaningful gifts. Often given to mark a milestone moment – like a Sweet 16th birthday, graduation day, Mother's day or a wedding day gift from the groom to the bride – pearl jewelry is timeless and will be well‐treasured. Pearls are also the traditional birthstone for those born in May, and the gemstone for the 30th wedding anniversary.
Given the speed in which things seem to happen today, it is almost incongruous to find that pearls have been cultured and harvested basically the same way for centuries. The creation of a pearl is remarkably simple to understand, but fairly complex to create.
Pearls are formed when an irritant, such as a piece of sand, becomes lodged in the shell of an oyster. Sensing the object, the oyster deposits layers of a semi‐translucent substance called "nacre" around the intruder, where it builds up over time. It takes years to create a pearl of decent size and perfectly round shapes are rare.
All pearls used in Zales pearl jewelry are cultured. This means that while they are genuine pearls made from natural materials, the pearls themselves are cultivated in pearl farms and the process is overseen and facilitated by humans.
The Four Types of Pearls
There are four major types of cultured whole pearls – Freshwater, Akoya, South Sea and Tahitian – and they differ in color, size and shape based on the variety of the mollusk, the growing conditions, harvesting techniques and many other factors.
Perfect for any occasion, cultured freshwater pearls can be found in breathtaking colors and enchanting styles.Learn More About Freshwater Pearls
The "classic" saltwater pearl, Akoya pearls are considered some of the finest in the world.Learn More About Akoya Pearls
South Sea Pearls
Ranging from soft white to rich gold, South Sea pearls make a most elegant statement.Learn More About South Sea Pearls
Rare and stunning, Tahitian black pearls are a bold choice for the sophisticated woman.Learn More About Tahitian Pearls
Pearl Buying Guide
From choosing the perfect pearls to their care and storage, we've got you covered.Read Our Pearl Buying Guide