From Coco Chanel to Jackie Onassis, Audrey Hepburn to Princess Diana, Cara Delevingne to Olivia Palermo – pearls are timeless, yet on trend.  Whether layering necklaces or bracelets or wearing just one statement piece, is your source for this MUST of an accessory.


In the Grand Bazaar, here in Istanbul you can find pearls not only in jewelry, but also in such things as chess sets, boxes, and tables.  Traders from the Middle East and beyond have brought pearls in a variety of forms to Istanbul for hundreds, if not thousands of years.  Pearls are made when a mollusk (like a clam or bivalve) has a microscopic object trapped within the folds of their mantle.  Layers of nacre – the mother of pearl that lines the shell of the mollusk form over the object which creates the pearl.  Where are our pearls currently from?  There are both natural and cultured pearls.  Let’s take a look at both.

Natural vs. Cultured Pearls

A natural pearl or what some call wild pearl forms without any human help.  Natural pearls are almost 100% calcium carbonate and conchiolin.  These are very rare and many mollusks must be collected to find one pearl.  Present day natural pearls are mainly found in Bahrain and off the coasts of Australia.  Pearl diving – where divers have traditionally been let down on a weighted rope – has been occurring in Bahrain for 5,000 years.  In fact, before oil was discovered, pearl diving was the main industry for many in this island nation.  The pearl diving season in Bahrain is from June until early September.  Australia, on the other hand, maintains the largest fleet of pearl finding ships.  In the Australian Indian Ocean, a significant number of natural pearls are found each year.  

With human assistance and natural processes, a cultured pearl, on the other hand, is formed in a pearl farm.  There are a variety of methods to produce a cultured pearl, but basically a tiny piece of tissue is transplanted into another shell.  In about six months time, the mollusk will have covered this tissue with a few layers of nacre and a pearl will have formed.  The usage of beads is widespread and most cultured pearls are grown with them.  Akoya, white or golden South sea, and black Tahitian are the names these cultured pearls go by. 

Our Selection

Currently, at, our most popular items with pearls contain either cultured baroque  or cultured seed pearls.  Baroque pearls have an irregular, non-spherical shape.  For example:



Seed pearls is the name given to tiny pearls.  Items with seed pearls include tassel necklaces…something the Grand Bazaar is famous for.




Maureen Gumus is a writer, editor, jewelry enthusiast, and world traveler.Originally from the U.S., Maureen is proud to call Istanbul her home - one that she shares with her master jeweler husband, Nurhan, and their cat, Mink.

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