Pearls are one of June's birthstones, and cultured freshwater pearl beads add elegance to a wide variety of jewelry designs - they're not just for bridal designs, weddings and proms! Choose from natural and dyed pearl colors in several popular shapes and drillings. Pearls are organic gemstones that grow inside oysters and a few other mollusks. They're formed when a foreign object, like a tiny stone, makes its way into the mollusk's shell and the mollusk covers the object over time with 1,000's of layers of nacre. "Cultured" pearls are pearls in which people, rather than nature, implant the foreign particle, and care for the mollusks at a pearl farm while the pearls develop. Nearly all pearls available today are cultured. Natural pearls are very rare (and valuable!), so the word "pearl" should be assumed as "cultured pearl" unless otherwise noted. Pearls formed by saltwater oysters are commonly known as oriental pearls and those produced by freshwater mollusks are called freshwater pearls.