Sunday’s Gem — Pearl

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ~Albert Einstein

Pearls are formed when something (like a grain of sand) irritates an oyster’s soft inner body, prompting it to secrete a substance called nacre. When layer upon layer of nacre builds up around the irritant, a pearl comes to be.

An Akoya cultured pearl oyster. Image thanks to www.gia.edu

Pearls differ from many gemstones in that they’re formed organically — kind of a fluke, really — whereas stones like diamonds and emeralds are mined from the earth. Pearls need no special cutting or polishing to enhance their lustrous beauty.

Pearls are found around the world. Once, the Persian Gulf with its natural oyster beds was the center of the pearl trade. However, in 1894, a man named Mikimoto created the first cultured pearl by manually entering an irritant to force an oyster to form a pearl, forever changing the industry. Akoya Pearls are to this day valued for their luster and colors.

Still classified as a gemstone, Pearl has been prized for millennia. Used in jewelry at least as far back as ancient Greece, Pearl symbolizes purity, innocence, and faith.

Thirteenth Century explorer Marco Polo reportedly gave Mongolian emperor Kublai Khan a 575 carat pearl. Prince Phillip II of Spain in the 16th Century gifted his bride the pearl called La Peregrina, which Richard Burton gave his wife Elizabeth Taylor in the 1960s.

Pearls were the favorite stones of Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, and Jackie Kennedy. And lest you think Pearl is only a gem for old ladies, consider how today’s style icons such as Kate Middleton, Angelina Jolie, and Sarah Jessica Parker are rocking pearl jewelry!

This 17″ A+ graded South Sea Pearl necklace with 18kt white gold and diamond accent is available at Sidney Thomas for only $35,000!

Pearls are about two percent water and have a hardness of about 3 on the 1-10 Mohs Scale. That means you should store them separately from other stones, keep them away from chemicals, and avoid extreme heat (so they won’t dry out and develop hairline cracks).

The traditional birthstone for the month of June, Pearls are popular gifts for brides. Oddly, they’re not typically worn by men, though that’s not always been the case. In fact, ancient kings wore ropes of pearls as a symbol of their wealth, and knights in the Dark Ages wore pearls on the battlefield for safety.

Pearls come in shades of white, cream, brown, black, pink, gold, and blue. They’re touted as digestive aids, skin beautifiers, hormone regulators, and stress level reducers, among other claims. Pearl is believed to attract prosperity, abundance, luck, and wealth.

Pearls are said to balance all Chakras, but are most directly associated with the Third Eye, Sacral, and Crown.

Note: The claims here aren’t meant to take the place of medical advice. They’re based on folklore and other sources, and likely “work” best if one’s belief is strong enough!

18 thoughts on “Sunday’s Gem — Pearl

  1. I always loved pearls. They have the ability to take us back to a simpler time. Of course, they need to be worn frequently to keep them in top shape. Thanks, Debbie. I enjoyed the history of the cultured pearl.

  2. Debbie, I SO enjoyed this post because pearls are one of my favorite gemstones and have had a major influence in my life and career. I worked for Chanel for 6 years and that’s when it began because Coco Chanel LOVED pearls, which became one of the companies biggest visual associations in her jewelry line. If you google “Coco Chanel”, you will see images of her wearing strings and strings of pearls. Also, when I spent a summer in Japan, the hotel I lived in had a jewelry store in the lobby that was owned by Japanese family that strung their own pearl necklace, bracelets, and rings. One time the owner showed me the biggest pearl they had. OMG…it was HUGE! And was worth $50,000.

    Once again, my friend…such an interesting and enlightening gemstone post!

    Hope your weekend was faaabulous! X

    • I remember seeing photos of Coco Chanel and her pearls, Ron — she really helped to make them a fashion necessity. And I love your memories of the summer you spent in Japan — did you get a photo of that really expensive pearl??

      Glad you enjoyed my post, my friend. Hope you’re having a great week! xx

  3. I love pearls! Unfortunately they’d gone a bit out of fashion by the time I was old enough to wear them, but they seemed to bounce back twenty years or so ago and I indulged in some of the coloured ones that are quite cheap because they’re not perfect. I love the feel of them on the skin. I’ve since inherited my mother’s pearls which are much better quality but in an ‘old lady’-ish setting. But that kinda works for me now… ;)

    • Oh, FF, you are sooo right — pearls *do* feel wonderful on one’s skin! And I just love how lustrous they are (and how nobody needs to do anything to enhance them because they’re just right as they are!) My own mom didn’t pass down any pearls for us kids, so you’re really lucky to have your mom’s.

  4. It’s funny — I’ve never thought of pearls as gemstones. I do love them. When I was a kid, I I had a Revlon doll, and even she had a pearl necklace! I still have a pearl necklace my aunt tells me my mother wore at her wedding, and I have two more modern necklaces that combine black and brown pearls with sterling silver beads. I love the classic look, but those colored pearls are gorgeous. Now, I just need some occasion to wear them!

    • Besides the obvious expense of acquiring a matched set of extraordinary pearls, there’s the obvious reason I don’t have a lovely pearl necklace: I just don’t have any place fancy enough to wear one! I suppose they’re akin to diamonds, in that ANY place is satisfactory (but who wants to wear expensive stones to sit in front of a computer and write most of the day?!?)

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