June can be a busy summer month with Father’s Day and graduation parties, and also with a Lake City staple event, Water Ski Days. In addition to your usual Father’s Day gifts like watches, cuff links, etc., we have some unique items straight from Lake Pepin. Lake Pepin is a natural widening in the Mississippi River, and Lake Pepin Pearls come right from the lake. As a bonus, pearl is also one of June’s three birthstones. So it’s pearl month!

Pearls are the only gemstone that are made within a living creature. This alone makes them very unique, along with their singular texture and luster. There are three types of classifications of pearls: natural, cultured, and imitation. Of course, imitation pearls are man-made from plastic or some other derived material. Natural and cultured pearls are both produced by oysters or mussels, but cultured has human involvement in the ‘farming’ of the pearl.

How are pearls made? They occur when an irritant makes its way into the soft tissue of a mollusk or oyster. Layers of nacre are secreted to cover the irritant, which in turn forms the pearl. Traditionally, pearls are thought to be white, but they actually come in a broad array of pastel colors and shapes. Freshwater pearls, as we have here in Lake Pepin, are usually white, purple, or a peach color. But most interesting are the unusual shapes that are produced. Barrel, pillow, and petal are a few of many baroque styles that describe the shape of a pearl. For our jewelry designers, baroque pearls are the most exciting to create settings that complement each pearl’s uniqueness.

While diamonds use the standard cut, color, clarity, and carat in its grading, pearl value is determined by the unstandardized A-AAA grading system. Luster, color, shape, surface quality, nacre quality, and origin are all factors in determining the quality of each pearl. This method is typically used for Akoya and freshwater pearls, including the pearls harvested here in Lake City.

Our Lake Pepin Pearls are natural Mississippi River pearls that are purchased from clammers working the Lake Pepin region of the Mississippi River. Not only are they local, but the pearls also reflect historical river town life, which makes them all the more unique.

Johnson Jewelers of Lake City is your local, independently-owned fine jewelry store. Our experienced goldsmith and jewelers will help you create the perfect pearl design.