The classic elegance and luster of pearls has become more of a curse than a blessing. They may be considered lovely jewelry but are usually relegated into the background, in stuffy events like weddings, christenings and coming out balls. Pearl necklaces have sometimes been equated with "squares", spinster aunts, grandmothers and the old South. Pearls have had a hard time competing with more edgy jewelry like the luscious and high-class gemstones like diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and even semi-precious stones like opal and garnet. Pearls have therefore become remnants of the past than beautiful gems that can be used as modern accessories. That has changed. Pearls have made a huge comeback into the modern scene just a few years ago. They did not really leave the fashion world but only had limited and specialized use. Today, pearls can be found in almost all kinds of fashion-related items. The reason for this is the accessibility of pearls in the form of freshwater pearls. Japan has started this industry in the 1920s by culturing pearls using freshwater mussels. However, it has declined production but China has claimed the production of cultured pearls because of the high demand for them. Donor mussels are inserted with irritants that form the pearls and some of these mussels can produce up to 40 freshwater pearls. The pearls are not as high-quality as the ones made naturally but the color and shape can be controlled and some freshwater pearls can be breathtakingly beautiful as natural ones. A pearl strand belonging to Mary, Queen of Scots dating from 1550 is made of freshwater pearls. Scotland has been cultivating freshwater pearls, as well as North America but the extinction of almost 35 species of mussels in Europe and America has left Asia with this booming industry. Because of its reentry into the world of edgy fashion, more and more pearl companies are striving to provide jewelry ideas for the modern woman. There are many ways that freshwater pearls can be used and integrated into a woman's fashion sense. They can be used as accessories. Pearl jewelry today tries to incorporate contemporary design and color into pearl necklaces. The classic pearl necklace and pearl choker has given way to long strands of irregularly shaped freshwater pearls in all sizes and colors. They can be paired with casual wear such as jeans, blouses and short dresses. Pearl bracelets and pearl earrings come in magnificent colors such as red, turquoise and canary yellow that makes any outfit pop. Other jewelry options for pearls include adding beads made of semi-precious stones or crystals. Pearls have dominated all aspects of the jewelry trade. Even the mother-of-pearl shell of mollusks is used for inlay work on bracelets with freshwater pearls as accentuating items. Pendants for necklaces and rings are now also popularly made of freshwater pearls. Even younger people have seen the flexibility and the touch of beauty that pearls give to an otherwise ordinary outfit and include these accessories while shopping. Office women rely on pearl necklaces to give them that polished corporate look. Jewelry designers are coming up with more and more ideas for pearls. Edgy and contemporary jewelry designs have freshwater pearls in them, either as the main piece or an accentuating item. Indeed, pearls are here to stay.