The world’s oldest gem, pearls are revered since before written history. For this reason, their discovery cannot be attributed to a single individual particularly, but it’s thought that they had been discovered by people. We know that they’ve been employed for millennia due to a fragment of pearl jewellery found in the sarcophagus of a Persian princess who dates back to 420 BC, that is now on display at the Louvre in Paris as a form of adornment.
Bracelets were presented as presents to Chinese royalty as early as 2300 BC, although in ancient Rome, pearl jewellery was regarded as the ultimate status symbol. So precious were the gems that are spherical that Julius Caesar and a law restricting the wearing of pearls passed to the classes.
The prosperity of natural oyster beds in the Persian Gulf meant that pearls additionally carried great importance in Arab civilizations, in which legend stated that diamonds were formed from dewdrops which were swallowed by oysters when they fell into the sea. At the middle of the pearl trade, the Persian Gulf was before the advent of cultured pearls and it had been a source of wealth in the region.
With this kind of a long and ancient history, it’s no wonder that, as time passes, the pearl turned into shrouded in legend and myth. In China, while knights wore pearls to the battlefield, presuming that the prized diamonds could keep them secure pearl jewellery has been believed to symbolise the innocence of the wearer. According to legend, a pearl crushed into a glass of wine to show she would provide the most expensive dinner in history.
Pearls are an important trade product because Roman times, along with the discovery of pearls in Central and South America in the 15th and 16th century resulted in the so called Pearl Age. Where women of nobility and royalty wore pearl necklaces, earrings, pearl bracelets and broochesdemand for pearl jewelry became so high that oyster supplies began to dwindle.
Unlike diamonds which are mined from the ground, a living organism generates a pearl and, in fact, their very presence is a freak of nature. A bead is formed when an irritant, like a parasite or piece of shell, which becomes accidentally lodged in an oyster’s soft inside, making it to secrete a crystalline substance called nacre, which builds up around the irritant in layers before a bead is formed. Cultured pearls are formed through exactly the process being that the irritant is implanted into the oyster rather.
Until the start of the 20th century, the sole method of amassing pearls was risking their own lives at depths of around 100ft to regain the pearl oysters. It was a dangerous pursuit and one which transported limited chance of succeeding as a slew of oysters would throw up just three or four quality pearls. These decoration beds were frequently earmarked for harvesting by royalty, although freshwater molluscs living in rivers and shallow rivers were easier to gather.
Nowadays, natural pearls are among the most popular of gems and their nearly completely depleted supply usually means they’re found very infrequently only in the waters away Bahrain and Australia. The scarcity of natural pearls is reflected at the prices they bring at auction, together with classic pearl bracelets and earrings selling for record-breaking sums. Last year, a set of natural pearl rings – abandoned –
Intense bidding wars also have erupted over high quality natural pearl necklaces with all the winning bids running into a few million dollars. Unlike the gemstone that is senile, pure pearls’ formation depends on clean seas and stable temperatures, both of which have been thrown into disarray by pollution and global warming. All pearl jewelry on the market these days is made using pearls that farmed and were cultivated.
The debut of pearls in the early 1900s resulted in the value of pearls that were pure to plummet and turned the entire pearl industry. By 1935, there were 350 trophy farms in Japan, producing 10 million cultured diamonds a calendar year, though Mikimoto needed to constantly defend herself against accusations that his pearls weren’t “actual”. The contrary was spoken to by the scientific proof; the Egyptian pearls possess the exact same properties as the ones formed in sea beds, the sole real difference was that they had in getting the process started a hand.
Mikimoto’s Akoya pearls are still used today by the jewelry house that bears his name and so are renowned for their brilliant lustre and rich colours, which range from white, cream and pink, to silvery pink.
Pearls can be found, or cultivated, in saltwater or freshwater and there are a number of distinct types of pearls based on what mollusc they originate from. Cultured freshwater pearls are made in China
as well as due to their prosperity, they are less expensive than their saltwater cousins. Saltwater pearls include Tahitian pearls, which arise in Tahiti and other islands in French Polynesia in addition to the aforementioned Akoya. The latter is the biggest of the pearl kinds and come in white, cream or golden hues with sizes. A Tahitian pearl can also be referred to as a dark pearl, though its colour spectrum also includes grey, blue, green and purple.Read more about Tahitian pearls here.
Coloured pearls have been popular with both people as far back as the 17th century as well as in the past few decades, these dim wonders of the sea have witnessed a revival, using a new production of fashion-conscious consumers embracing jewellery comprising colored pearls as an edgier alternative to the traditional white pearl necklace.
Baroque South Sea or Tahitian pearls are frequently utilised in contemporary jewellery to excellent effect, while round pearls have traditionally been the most coveted.
Only speaking, oysters just create pearls, however a few jewels that are created in different molluscs also qualify with this moniker. These include incredibly rare, yellowish-orange Melo Melo pearls and oval-shaped conch pearls. All these non-nacreous pearls are shaped by a substance composed mostly of calcite, and their attractiveness is no less spectacular whether they lack the iridescence of pearls.
Ranging in colour from yellow to crimson crimson, with soft pink being the hottest color, conch pearls can’t be cultivated and are only located in one in every 10,000 Queen conch molluscs. Because of this, conch rings are amazingly precious and also a stone could fetch up to US$120,000. Mikimoto recently launched a group of conch pearl jewelry, as well as the distinctive pink pearls also have been incorporated into stones by the likes of Boucheron jewellery and Tiffany & Co..
Additionally incredibly amazing and sought after are abalone pearls, which are one of the rarest in the world as they’re not cultured and only seen by chance in rocky, coastal waters.
Pearl bracelets in the form of strands reflected the style. These long necklaces would measure over 30 inches and also be decorated with a tassel for a pendant. “A woman wants ropes and ropes of pearls,” announced Coco Chanel, who was seldom seen without a pile of earrings casually worn round her neck. Society women were stunned by her by teaming her earrings and blending the object. Largely as a result of her endorsement jewelry became popular and many girls wore fake pearl jewellery made from Lucite glass.
Inspired by Mademoiselle’s enthusiasm for the gem, in 2014 Chanel established a top jewellery collection dedicated to the timeless pearl. The Perles Swing set, composed of earrings, necklace and a pearl necklace, is also a simple but elegant mix of pastel-coloured South Sea, Tahitian and freshwater cultured pearls.
Jackie Kennedy is another pearl-wearing icon whose signature triple strand pearl necklace actually consisted of imitation gems made out of glass in contrast to the actual thing. Audrey Hepburn’s name can be interchangeable with pearls, make it a necklace or a pair of pearl earrings subtly accentuating her gamine attributes.
Somewhere across the 1980s pearls acquired a reputation as the preserve of older ladies in twinsets using blue-rinse hairdos. Quite a few top jewellery houses feature pearls in their jewellery collections and they’re also being incorporated into jewellery designs by progressive designers such as Kova.
As with diamonds, the standard of a pearl is determined by numerous criteria including its size, shape, colour and lustre. A significant aspect is the depth of the nacre because this decides not just the pearl’s lustre but also how long it will last. Unlike the diamond, pearls demand a little bit of TLC to make certain they remain looking pristine. Pearl jewellery should be stored separately to ensure the stone doesn’t scratch at their face. We’d suggest placing pearl jewels before placing them. Acidic elements like perfume and sweat can dull the lustre of a pearl, therefore never before putting them away spray odor onto them and wash the rings. In the instance of pearl bracelets, it’s a great idea each five years to take them to a jeweller to assess if they need re-stringing.
Traditionally, pearls were renowned for their uniformity in size and color but now it seems that the more daring, the greater. Pearls in vibrant colours and unusual shapes are being incorporated into unique stones by jewellers famous for their creativity, like Boghossian and Hemmerle, although YOKO London provides a remarkably extensive palette of coloured pearls so vibrant it is difficult to think they were formed naturally – far removed from the classic discreet white pearl studs gracing the ear lobes of ladies who lunch.