Cultured or natural, luminous white or deep black, pearls—the birthstone for the month of June—are a natural wonderment in a kingdom of their own. Known as the Queen of Gems, pearls are the only gemstone sourced from a living organism. Each is the result of a reaction to an irritant—a piece of shell, a parasite—that has invaded the interior of an oyster, clam, or mussel. Coastal regions of China, Australia, and Japan are among the planet’s most fruitful pearl sources. In addition to an array of colors (black, copper-brown, white, deep-gold), pearls can either be “cultured” (produced with human intervention) or “natural” (having occurred in the wild all on their own). In either state, the pearl is a genuine earthly wonder—long live the queen!