My mom's birthday is around the corner, and I need an extra-special gift—one that'll raise my status from neglectful long-distance daughter to doting daughter who's just a heartbeat away. A friend suggested pearls, and my mind immediately went to June Cleaver.

But a little window-shopping changed my perspective. From purple freshwater to multistrand akoya, cultured pearls are looking fabulous this season.
The Mikimoto and Iridesse Web sites have collections that are light-years away from your grandmother's pearls. That's why I'm a new fan of the gems and will soon be crowned best daughter in the universe.

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