No one can match the abundance of treasures that Mother Nature gives. One of such beauties lies deep beneath the ocean, under the protection of a tough oyster harnessed only by those who know its true value. Its the pearl.
In their grandeur, pearls light up the heart of every wardrobe. They can be worn any day and in any setting, whether for dinner or for a night out with friends. Pearls give the face and neck a nice glow and also upgrade any outfit. They could be used as rings and pendants, which give a subtle elegant effect.
As bracelets, they enhance the beauty of the feminine hand and men also take pride and wear this exquisite jewel in cufflinks, tuxedo studs and leather necklaces. The 2013 movie The Great Gatsby has pushed the popularity of pearls into our time, showing us the fun ways we can wear them.
The pearl is the oldest gemstone in the world, with its delicacy and rarity emanating effortless beauty, which leaves one in awe of its creator. It is perceived as a symbol of purity and natural beauty and reputed to generate healing power through the positive energy and emotional peace and stability that it gives to one who wears them.
In ancient times, pearls were considered so precious that Egyptian Queens were adorned in them for burial and Knights wore them as sacred charms. In the Roman Empire, not just anyone was allowed to own or wear them as Julius Caesar limited the wearing of pearls to only rulers and royalty.
Pearls are naturally formed and they are the only rock created by a living creature, as the oyster shell is every pearl birthplace. Ironically, this is formed when a mollusc perceives an attachment as an irritant, which makes it secrete a crystal-like substance (nacre) to defend itself. The nacre forms a smooth shiny layer made of very tiny calcium carbonate crystals that thicken around the foreign body. A pearl is fully formed when the layers are strong and thick enough to cover the strange object.
The pearl usually takes the shape of the foreign body around which it grows and it is for this reason we have perfectly round pearls and rice shaped pearls which are called Baroque pearls. Either have immense value but the perfectly round pearls are valued more.
fresh water variety come in many colours and give off a beautiful shine. Natural pearls were becoming extinct in the late 19th century as a result of a high demand so, in order to prevent this and ensure its availability, a Japanese entrepreneur, Kokichi Mikimoto started the commercial production of cultured pearls.
Freshwater pearls are now mostly grown in man-made lakes and reservoirs in China. Nevertheless, these are never classified as artificial so their value remains the same since it is the oyster that does most of the work; in the pearl farm where a tiny foreign object is injected into the oyster and the growth of a pearl takes off from there.
Salt Water pearls are the rarest of them all and as the name implies are found deep under the ocean and take many years to grow.
Second to none is the Tahitian pearl, often called surfer pearl, which is considered the most exotic of all pearls. The Tahitian pearls are found in the coral reefs of the French republic and grow in every colour from black to peacock and even white.
They are seen as fun pearls as a result of their many attractive colours. Another highly valued specie of pearls is the Akoya pearl; known for its shiny lustre with slightly pink overtones. It also comes out white but gives a metallic lustre and the perfectly shaped ones are usually referred to as Hanadama pearls.
The South Sea pearls lead the pearl kingdom in size, as they are the largest of all with one that could be as large as a dinner plate. They usually come out white, warm or golden in body colour. The white South Sea pearls are the most expensive and the golden South Sea is probably the rarest and most sought after.
Freshwater pearls usually take 1-6 years while those from the salt water take 5-20 years and one has to search over a thousand oysters to find one pearl. Although they are readily available to the public, pearls cost as much as 100,000 Dollars with some reaching as far as 19 million Dollars (this was the approximate amount paid at an auction in Hong Kong for a Salt water pearl). The longer it takes the larger the pearl, the larger the pearl, the greater the value and it is plainly for these reasons only the worthy should have them.