Pearl Gemstone Information
Pearl Facts, History and Lore
Wedding Anniversary Gift: 3rd and 30th
Venus, the Goddess of Love, was said to have been born fully grown in the shell of an oyster. Emerging from the sea unclothed, she came ashore to fill the world with beauty and love. Venus, it can be said, is the personification of Pearls – representing love, feminine beauty, innocent charm, and mysterious creation.
The Romans weren’t the only culture who believed in the majestic nature of Pearls. Chinese legend held that Pearls fell from the sky when dragons battled. Other cultures associated Pearls with the Moon, believing that Pearls formed when oysters swallowed moonlight-infused dew drops that had fallen into the ocean. Still others thought that Pearls were teardrops of the Gods. Some ancient medicinal treatments even utilized ground Pearl powder. More recently, Pearls have been said to enhance conjugal bliss, ensure marital faithfulness, calm emotions, and even keep newlywed wives from crying. It is no wonder Pearls have become a popular choice for brides on their wedding day.
Pearls, like gemstones, are intriguing examples of how beauty can emerge from distressing and unglamorous situations. With Pearls, it all starts with an irritating bit of grit, a parasite, or even a broken-off piece of its own tissue getting stuck inside the mollusk’s shell. Unable to remove this intruder, the mollusk coats it with nacre, the substance that forms the shiny inside of its shell. Over many years this coating builds up, like layers of paint, increasing the size of what is now a Pearl.
Natural pearls require a unique set of circumstances and are a very rare phenomenon. Iridescent pearls are only formed in some types of oysters and mussels. Depending on the species, only one in every thousand to hundreds of thousands will contain a pearl. Out of those few pearls, only a small percentage will be gemstone quality shape and texture. Today there are very few pieces of jewelry made from natural pearls; those that are sell for exorbitant prices. A strand of matching natural pearls would be valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars! With this knowledge in mind, one can come to realize the true beauty inherent in these marvelous formations.
Today, almost all Pearls are cultured. This refers to the process of simulating the conditions required for Pearl formation within the mollusk. Cultured Pearls are real Pearls, formed in mollusks, only they did not occur by chance. The only way to distinguish natural from cultured Pearls is by X-Ray. Because of the ability to culture Pearls, the over fishing of these Pearl-producing mollusks has decreased. Another benefit is the dramatic reduction in the price of Pearls, allowing more people to enjoy them. Beware; however, of imitation Pearls – they lose their luster relatively quickly and possess almost no value.
Pearls, representing the Moon, Love, and Feminine Beauty, have a long history of lore and legend. Whether loved for this lore, their shimmering brilliance or for their scientific intrigue, Pearls command a respect that few animal byproducts can compete with.