Pearl History - Timeless Beauty

pearlhistory.pngPearls have throughout history been considered a symbol of unblemished perfection, of purity, of mystique.

To some civilizations the pearl was a symbol of the moon and had magical powers. During the Roman Empire, only persons above a certain rank were allowed to wear pearl jewelry. Hindus have long used the pearl as a wedding gift, symbolizing innocence. Both the Incas and Aztecs prized pearls for their beauty and mystical powers, and the Spanish conquistadors found rich pearl fisheries when they arrived in the New World.

Native Americans on the Atlantic coast and in the Mississippi River Basin collected freshwater mussel pearls, men and women alike using them as jewelry.

Ancient Middle Eastern cultures appear to have been the first to value pearls and pearl shells, and archaeologists have discovered that almost 6,000 years ago in the Persian Gulf region people were sometimes buried with a pierced pearl resting in their right hand.

As trade routes in the Old World gradually expanded and societies developed across Asia and Europe, pearls became important symbols of wealth, status and religious belief.

In Renaissance Europe in the 1500s, the new centers of the pearl trade, Lisbon and Seville, overflowed with pearls from India, the Persian Gulf and the Caribbean. Rulers and aristocrats in Persia and India owned collections of fabulous rarity and value. In Russia, the royal workshops produced pearl jewelry whose designs drew from the East and the West to create items of astonishing beauty.

Pearls became especially popular in China during the Qing, or Manchu, dynasty, which ruled from 1644 to 1911. Although freshwater pearls were harvested in Manchuria, the dynasty's homeland, imperial art of the period shows large round pearls that would have come from the oceans around Vietnam and the Philippines.

At the dawn of the 20th century, a period of new industrial fortunes being created in Europe and America, pearls became less the exclusive province of nobility. People began wearing pearl jewelry on a more informal basis. New designs in jewelry reflected Art Nouveau styles and the Arts and Crafts movement, and often emphasized irregularly shaped freshwater pearls.

A new air of fashion began to evolve around pearl jewelry, but pearls never lost their great classical appeal.

 

Pearl Types: 

Tahitian Pearls - All The Oceans Colors

tahitian.pngThis darker variety of South Sea pearl is cultured on the beautiful islands of Tahiti in French Polynesia. These pearls are produced by the “Pinctada margaritifera’” or “Black Lip Oyster”. Tahitian pearls prices are determined by their luster, color, shape, size, nacre thickness and beauty. Their color ranges from light to very dark gray, but they are also produced in natural fancy colors like green, pink, lavender, blue and brown. 

Akoya - The Classic Pearl

akoya.pngFor centuries, the beauty of Akoya pearls has enchanted the world. This is the most traditional of pearls. Originally produced only in Japan, they have recently begun producing these pearls in Vietnam & China. Akoya pearls come from “Pinctada Martensii” or “Akoya” oysters, which are usually cultured. These pearls have natural colors that range from light pink to white to yellowish. Akoya pearls are known for their high luster and rich color. 

White South Sea Pearls - Queen of the Pearls

whitesouthsea.pngWhite South Sea pearls are valued for their brilliant luster and large size. Cultured White South Sea pearls are produced by one of the largest pearl-bearing oysters, the Pinctada Maxima oyster, along the coasts of Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The oyster which produces White South Sea pearls, commonly known as the Silver-Lipped Oyster, can grow to the size of a dinner plate but it is highly sensitive to the culturing process. This is one of several factors which contribute to the cost and rarity of South Sea Pearls. Another factor is the time it takes to culture South Sea Pearls. It typically takes 1-4 years to culture a South Sea pearl, while, in comparison, Freshwater pearls can be produced in 1–12 months. It can take many years to collect pearls from several harvests, in order to create just one of the magnificent strands you can find at The Pearl Exchange. 

Golden South Sea Pearls - A Rare Ocean Gem

goldensouthsea.pngGolden South Sea pearls are valued for their brilliant luster, large size and rarity. Cultured Golden South Sea pearls are produced by one of the largest pearl-bearing oysters, the Pinctada Maxima oyster, along the coasts of Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The oyster which produces White South Sea pearls, commonly known as the Gold-Lipped Oyster, can grow to the size of a dinner plate but it is highly sensitive to the culturing process. This is one of several factors which contribute to the cost and rarity of South Sea Pearls. Another factor is the time it takes to culture South Sea Pearls. It typically takes 1-4 years to culture a South Sea pearl, while, in comparison, Freshwater pearls can be produced in 1–12 months. It can take many years to collect pearls from several harvests, in order to create just one of the magnificent strands you can find at The Pearl Exchange. 

Freshwater Pearls - Fashionable & Affordable

freshwater.pngFreshwater pearls are primarily cultured using the “Hyriopsis cumingii”, or “Triangle shell” pearl mussel. Freshwater pearls are arguably the most diverse type of pearls produced today. They grow in a huge variety of shapes, a broad range of sizes, and have a natural pastel color palate that ranges from dark purple, to light pink and white. The majority of Freshwater pearls are produced in China, with limited production in Japan.