Monday, June 9, 2008

In keeping with our June themes here, I thought the pearl, this month’s jewel, would be an interesting topic. Every woman used to have a good set of pearls although to be called a pearl has some strange connotations since the pearl is produced when a foreign material enters an oyster and the creature tries to get rid of it by secreting an organic substance which coats over the foreign body. This substance is called nacre or mother of pearl. The resulting pearl may take years to develop. A cultured pearl (which the Japanese perfected in the early 1900s) is the result of implants by man. We are not a patient lot, are we? And we do have a thing about implants!
I found some fascinating information about the history of the pearl. Until early in the twentieth century, the principal oyster beds lay in the Persian Gulf, along the coasts of India and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), and in the Red Sea. Chinese pearls came mainly from freshwater rivers and ponds, whereas Japanese pearls were found near the coast in salt water. These regions dominated the international pearl trade for more than forty centuries, yielding the famous pearls belonging to Cleopatra, Julius Caesar and Marco Polo. Now, in the realm of cultured pearls, China and Japan dominate.
Before the creation of cultured pearls in the early 1900s, natural pearls were so rare and expensive that they were reserved almost exclusively for the noble and very rich. A jewelry item that today's working women might take for granted, a 16-inch strand of perhaps 50 pearls, often costs between $500 and $5,000. At the height of the Roman Empire, when pearl fever reached its peak, the historian Suetonius wrote that the Roman general Vitellius financed an entire military campaign by selling just one of his mother's pearl earrings.

The color of a pearl is complex as its origin since it depends on of the water. Supposedly white pearls are formed in deep water, and the dark pearls are formed in surface water bathed in sunshine. Each pearl is an intricate layering of color. Experts describe the color of pearls as a combination of the predominant color and a secondary color, the overtone or tint. To observe the overtone in white pearls, experts recommend viewing the pearls on a white background under direct light. In contrast, black pearls should be viewed under diffused light.

Pearls were commonly dedicated to Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, who according to mythology, emerged from a shell in the sea.

Mother of pearl comes from the clam or mussel shell. Best know as a button, it can also be designed into jewelry like the bracelet below.


Errors like straws, upon the surface flow,
He who would search for pearls must dive below.
-John Dryden, Prologue to All for Love, 1678.

23 comments:

Craft Diva said...

wow, teach! YOU really did your homework! any assignments related to this???? lol. jk. it's really very interesting. thanks for the lesson....keeping me on my toes, i see...

Cottage Flair said...

I love to read your blog and look at your beautiful photos. You sure do your homework! Pearls are a classic, I love the their look.
Jennifer

Cathy said...

Susan, great post. I got my hands on tons of strands of pearls at a yard sale yesterday. I'm up to my ears in them and they are oh so beautiful.

Thanks for sharing.

xo
Cath

Inka Thomas said...

Susan,
You always have such interesting show and tells. Thanks for the info. I would love to be one of you students. You are a great teacher.
Inka

Miniature Patisserie Chef said...

Susan, Thanks for doing up a great post about pearls. I love looking at the photos you have put up!

Pei Li

Brenda @Just a Bed of Roses said...

One of my goals this year was to learn about pearls, so thanks for the blog that will get me motivated to learn more. Now I need to learn how to price them! Lovely post on pearls, great subject.

Joyce said...

What an interesting post on the history of pearls. Thanks for sharing!

lisa said...

Susan

I love your posts, I always learn something new and interesting. I love pearls. One day I hope to own a real pair.

Lisa
www.palepinkandroses.com

Noelle Garrett Designs said...

I always look forward to your posts, what great information. Being a June baby I love pearls, however I don't have nearly enouh of them. LOL.
Carrie

gail said...

Hi Susan,, how fun to learn about pearls. I absolutely adore pearls. I like them better than diamonds. I was given and antique string of pearls from my very best friend when I turned 23, so many years ago, lol. I love them. Thanks for sharing...luv, gail

mommasquirrel said...

Ahhh ~ Dragon's tears, my favorite jewel of the sea! What a wonderful show and tell. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog and looking at your pretty picture.
Thank you for sharing.
Hugs, xoxoxo
Colby

Beloved Creations said...

I love pearls. A man I dated for years bought me some mikimoto pearls from Japan. I love pearls!

Michelle M. May said...

Fantastic post! It's so nice to learn something new all the time. Thanks for sharing such fun information.

Hugs,
Michelle

Sweet Necessi-Teas said...

Susan, you are a wealth of nformation--a walking encyclopedia! Loved the pearls of knowledge today!

Sharon said...

forty centuries??? That is a long long time~ WoW!!I did not know most of that information~ my only strand of pearls was purchased by my Jr. Prom date in leiu of a corsage~ but alas the pearls lasted the boyfriend didn't~ it's a good thing ;-)~S

Marie said...

I love pearls and so reading all about them on your site was a delight.

Patricia said...

Love you blog. Thank you for all this info about pearls. I just love them but didn't know very much about them. The photos are wonderful--who is the lovely lady wearing the strand of pearls in the photo?
Pat

Susie said...

Susan, Pearls are always my favorites and your presentation gets an A++++++++! Beautiful! love Mikimoto pearls. Thank you.
Susie ~ The Polka Dot Rose

Vicki Pink Pearl Girl said...

Hi Susan,
So nice to meet you. Thank you for stopping by my blog with your congrats. Best wishes to you & hubby on your upcoming anniversary. I have always wanted to visit Cape May & see all of those beautiful victorians.
I so enjoyed your post about pearls as I love them so. Lots of great information you have shared about them. Take care & I hope to see you in Williamsburg at the MMP retreat.

Debbie said...

Hi Susan.....beautiful photos and very interesting information about pearls...thanks for sharing with us again!

xo,
Debbie

Couture de Papier said...

Fascinating I love your blog too!

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

Thanks so much for sharing your "pearls" of wisdom and knowledge. Loved reading this post. I don't have a set of real pearls...(hmmm...a big anniversary is coming up...oh honey!). I do have a nice set of faux pearls though. The other day I wore them with jeans and a big white shirt and had so many compliments. Pink Hugs, Lynn

Secret Leaves said...

Your blog posts are so informative. I really enjoyed reading this post. I am going to pass your blog on to my sister, who owns an antique mall in Indiana. I think she will enjoy it.

Sharon