The Persian Gulf has been a major source of natural pearls throughout history. Pearling was a significant industry in regions like Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. This dangerous profession was known for its risks but also for the potential rewards of finding valuable pearls. In the 19th century, the development of cultured pearls revolutionized the pearl industry. Kokichi Mikimoto of Japan is credited with perfecting the technique of culturing pearls, leading to increased accessibility and affordability. Pearls gained popularity in the early 20th century, particularly during the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements.
Today cultured pearls are the most common type available in the market. These pearls are created by inserting a nucleus into an oyster or mussel, stimulating the formation of a pearl. Major sources of cultured pearls include Japan, China, Australia, and various countries in the South Pacific. Additionally, natural pearls, formed without human intervention, are still found but are extremely rare and valuable.