Pearls are indeed the queen of all gemstones as they are the purest, the simplest yet the most gorgeous of them all. Being a Cancerian, pearl is my birth stone but my love for it, is more than that! Every time my jewellery shopping spree ends up in buying those lovely dew-drops. They quench my thirst for aesthetics and I love showing them off in almost every quality, color, shape and size.
Today, The Style Symphony presents all about pearls— a little of history, some knowledge, a bit of care & TLC and my proud personal collection.
History of Pearls !
No one will ever know who the earliest people to collect and wear pearls as jewellery were. Some gemologists believe that an ancient fish eating tribe, based along the coasts of India, initially discovered and appreciated the shape and pale lustre of the salt-water pearls which they found quite by chance by opening oyster for food.
Before the creation of cultured pearls in the early 1900s by Kokichi Mikimoto, natural pearls were so rare and expensive that only Maharajas and the very rich could afford them.
Pearls & Cleopatra!
There are many ancient stories surrounding these gems. One of the most famous and well remembered is the wager between Cleopatra and Mark Antony. The Egyptian queen wanted to prove to the Roman that she could host the most expensive dinner in all history. She crushed one large pearl from a pair of earrings that she was wearing and dissolved it in a goblet of wine (or vinegar, it is not really known) and drank from it. Mark Antony, amazed by the ‘dinner menu’ declined to drink off the matching pearl, and conceded that the queen of Egypt had won the bet.
The making of Pearls!
A genuine pearl is formed by nature and by chance, when a foreign object like a grain of sand gets trapped in an oyster or mussel. It soon gets coated with a smooth layer of a substance from within the oyster shell called nacre, an overtime, these layers of nacre produce a substantial opaque gem that is now called a pearl.
Almost all the pearls sold today are ‘cultured’, formed by deliberately inserting an irritant such as a sand particle, bits of shell or even tiny glass beads into the oyster tissue. The quality of these pearls varies widely.
Set for beauty!
Cultured pearls are passed through brass sieves, graded from small to large and then classified by size. They are then sorted by color before they are finally valued. While valuing a pearl, its size, relative roundness, iridescence, color and freedom from blemish are all important criteria that are considered.
Natural pearls that possess these qualities are extremely rare and valuable.
Today, cultured pearls— except premium brands like Mikimoto— are used as relatively inexpensive accessories to accompany more expensive gemstones in a setting. They are seen extensively in Indian jewellery.
The Precious Precautions
- Your strands of pearls should be kept in a soft chamois or flannel pouch rather than being stored in plastic or polythene bags. The chemicals emitted by plastics are harmful to them.
- Keep your pearls away from extreme temperatures, especially from sunlight. Sudden temperature changes might crack them.
- Avoid cleaning them in soap or detergent. You can find special cleaners meant for them only or rather simply rinse them in clean cold water.
- Pearls are born and derived from water. So, keeping them in constant contact with water makes them last longer. Dip them periodically in clean water for 2-3 hours and let them dry naturally.
- Never string them in nylon thread. It could harm them in long run. Cotton thread is the best option.