Pearl, June's birthstone, is a gem that is readily identifiable. Associated with royalty and the rich, pearl necklaces, pearl rings, and pearl earrings, as well as clothing with lines of pearls stitched into them, have been worn for centuries by queens, diplomats, and movie stars. There are two kinds of pearls, natural pearls and cultured pearls.
Natural pearls are found through pearl hunting, an activity that no longer exists. Pearls are created inside mollusks that live in the sea. Beds of mollusks would be identified and scooped up from the ocean bottom. Unfortunately, not every mollusk contains a pearl. The creation of a pearl occurs by chance in nature. Therefore, even if a few hundred mollusks were uprooted, the pearl hunter would be lucky if half a dozen contained pearls. This is why pearls were for so long only associated with the rich; the pearls found this way were extremely expensive. Pearl hunting also led to the near extinction of pearl producing mollusks.
Now all pearls are cultured. Cultured pearls are created using human intervention in pearl farms. Pearls are created when an irritant is introduced into the mollusk. Rather than leave it to chance in the wild, the pearl farmer introduces this irritant and the pearl is later retrieved. This method is much less costly and more predictable. It also has increased the pearl supply dramatically, which has brought down the price of pearls, making this gorgeous gem available to more than just royalty and the rich.