Pearls

Natural perfection created within a living creature, a perpetual symbol of life, purity and innocence. The pearl is one of Earth’s most perfect creations and long one of mankind’s most treasured gems. Nature alone is responsible for this soft, delicate jewel whose beauty and purity have captivated mankind for thousands of years.

It is not known when and where the first pearl was discovered. It is possible that prehistoric man made the discovery while searching for food on the seashore or riverbank. He may have cracked open a rather dull, even unattractive looking mollusc and found inside a shimmering pebble resembling the moon – “dew drops of the moon” as the ancient Greeks called them.

The first reference to pearls can be found in Chinese literature. It is written that in about 2206 BC King Yu received a freshwater pearl from the River Huai and a necklace of variously shaped freshwater pearls from Zhejiang Province. Later references can also be found in the Mahabharata and Old Testament as well as in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. However, the oldest pearl known to be in existence is fossilised in a 200 million year-old mollusc.

The origin of the word ‘pearl’ is an enigma, around which myths and tales abound. Throughout history the pearl has been prized by ancient kingdoms and cultures as a royal treasure bringing wealth and happiness, even everlasting life, to its bearer. Egyptian Pharaohs were buried with the glimmering jewels in the belief that they could be born into the next life, and knights would wear them into battle as a charm to protect them from danger or harm.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, before pearl-culturing methods became more widespread, natural pearls were valued even more highly than diamonds.