Pearls, Pearls, Pearls
The Glorious History of Pearls
Copyright ©2012 By Elise
Pearls, Pearls, Pearls! Pearls have been loved as jewellery for centuries. I can only imagine the feeling of wonderment and joy when that first person prised open that oyster to reveal its glorious natural pearl. What a treasure, what an historic moment and how romantic! (At least that's how I like to believe pearls were discovered).
Of course we will never really know who or how pearls were discovered for the first time or how they became to adorn humans as special jewellery and ultimately as a status symbol for the elite and royalty. Maybe they were so prized because at the time natural pearls from wild mollusks were not always easy to find and the pearl making process can be a long one. Additionally, pearl diving was a dangerous and specialist skill which carried a high price.
The story of the pearl has a rich and global history. Pearls are the oldest natural organic gem and history suggests they were discovered as such about 4000 years ago. The Latin word for pearl literally means "unique", attesting to the fact that no two natural pearls are identical.
The Royal Gem
It is documented in China that pearls were treasured and given to Royalty as gifts. India also has a tradition of possession of pearls, even that Krishna (Indian God) was first to discover pearls. Today, India still has a thriving pearl industry and still use pearls for ceremonial jewellery, weddings and special adornment. For centuries, pearls have been the exclusive gemstones of royalty and nobility in every corner of the world where pearls can be found. In ancient Asia, pearls were used to decorate the crowns of emperors, the robes of the noble and the sacred statues of Gods.
The Romans often wore pearls as a symbol of status, wealth and prestige. Fable has it that Cleopatra and Mark Antony exchanged pearls. The Greeks also used pearls in Bridal Jewellery believing they would bring love and happiness. Arabs would harvest pearls from the natural oyster beds along the Persian Gulf. There is mention in the Koran that pearls will be provided in Paradise. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, pearls were very fashionable in Europe as personal ornaments. The clothing of both men and women were embroidered with pearls.
The Incas and Aztecs believed pearls had magical powers. Over on the Atlantic Coast, Mississippi River area they gathered pearls from freshwater mussels. And the Native Americans would wear pearl jewellery in the way of pendants and accessories. They were usually worn by both sexes for decorative purposes on their clothing for ceremonies, celebrations or funerals.
The romantic in me likes the tale of Arabic legend that says that the pearls were formed when moonlight filled dew drops descended down from the sky into to oceans and were swallowed by oysters.... they were sent from heaven no less!
Pearls are as popular as ever!
Of course, the glorious pearl still has favour today but modern freshwater pearl farms have replaced natural oyster beds. It's a multi-billion dollar, well organised industry now. But for sure the pearl has not lost its beauty or wonderment. They are still thought of as extra special and no doubt its history has not yet finished.
I doubt pearls will ever cease to bring smiles and joy to all that encounter them. So please enjoy pearl jewellery, enjoy the multi-colours available, marvel at the myriad of jewellery designs these days and give pearls as gifts. I believe that giving pearls is giving friendship and love.
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Author Notes: ©Copyright. Amelia Grace is a freelance writer, a blogger and a web designer. She publishes articles, blogs and press releases online. Her specialist subjects are: search engine optimisation, jewellery, team building, web design and modern music. However she is often commissioned to write many types of articles and reviews. Works are not to be copied or re-published or adapted or syndicated without express permission from the original author.