The ‘Queen of Gems’, pearls have been amongst the most treasured and valued gems for centuries. Pearls were collected for more than 4000 years, making it earn the title of the ‘world’s oldest gem’. They are the most loved gems and the most coveted for reasons galore. Their uniqueness are associated with the fact that they are the only gems born out of living sea creatures and does not need faceting or polishing.
The term ‘pearl’ is said to have come from the Middle English word ‘perle’ which in turn came from the Latin word ‘perna’ meaning ‘leg’. Pearl is the birthstone for the month of June. Enhancing a women’s palette of style, pearls can be worn as rings, earrings, pendants, necklaces, bracelets, engagement rings and eternity rings. They are a relatively inexpensive gem and can therefore be used along with other expensive gemstones like diamond, sapphire or ruby. Pearls are available in different colours and thus, are broken down in different variety.
As one of the most popular gemstones that have been used since antiquity, it is no wonder that a comprehensive and eminent jewellery store as AG & Sons deal with them too. We have a sweeping collection of pearl in all types and colours. Our designers have created breathtakingly beautiful pieces. We have pearl earrings, pearl rings, pearl necklaces, pearl bracelets, pearl engagement rings, pearl eternity rings, pearl pendants and even pearl bridal set rings.
The History and Lore of Pearl
Pearls, one of nature’s best gifts to mankind, has a rich history that dates back to the ancient times and much shrouded in myth and legend. Because they were discovered long before written history, not much is known about how, when and who discovered them. However, it is believed that they were discovered by people who were searching for food along the seashore. There are reports that suggest pearls were used as decorative items in Egypt as far back as 4000 BC. The use of actual pearls started somewhere in the 5th century BC. They were also found mentioned in religious texts like the Bible and the Koran.
As long as 2300 BC, there were Chinese records which indicate that pearls were highly revered by the royalty. Ancient Hindu texts of India, has several references to pearls. In one place it is even stated that it was Lord Krishna who discovered the first pearl. Pearls were also highly prized in ancient Rome. They were worn to represent wealth and prestige and those who were not deserving were not permitted to wear. According to the ancient Greeks, pearls were known to bring love and were widely used during weddings. They also played a prominent role in the Arab cultures who regarded pearls as one of the greatest treasures.
According to Pliny records, in 61 BC, the triumphal procession of Pompey was said to possess innumerable pearl ornaments and 33 crowns of pearls. Emperor Caligula’s love for pearls can be ascertained from the fact that his favourite horse was adorned with pearl necklace and he even wore slippers of pearls. In an attempt to win a wager against Roman leader Marc Antony, Cleopatra, the last Egyptian Queen, once claimed that she could have the most expensive meal; whereupon she apparently dissolved a pearl worth 10 million sesterces in a glass full of wine and drank it. As per an old Arabian legend, pearls were formed when moonlight filled with dew drops, dropped from the sky into the oceans and were eaten by the oysters.
Native Americans were also known to value pearls that they had recovered and harvested from rivers and lakes. There is a story of a native American princess who gifted amongst other things, freshwater pearls. The discovery of pearls in the Central American waters led to the proliferation of wealth in Europe, post the European expansion into the New World. There were several companies set up by European countries to trade in pearls. For several years, the New World was popularly known in European cities to be the land where pearls came from. In fact, the discovery of pearls in Central and South America in the 15th and 16th century led to the so called Pearl Age. However, due to fishing and pollution cause by industrialisation, natural pearl began to decline.
Until the 1900’s, natural pearls were only accessible to the rich and famous and were always rare. However, the discovery of a technique by the Japanese researchers, pearls have become much more affordable and widespread. The technique involved the use of oysters to create pearls. The man credited for popularising the technique for business purpose is none other Kokicchi Mikimoto, a son of a restaurateur. He is today credited for single-handedly giving birth to what we today know as the cultured pearl industry. Thanks to him, we today have an array of rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, pendants, engagement rings, eternity ring and even bridal set rings made out of pearls.
How are Pearls Formed?
Pearls are organic gem. They are formed inside mollusks such as mussels and oysters. When an irritant such as a tiny stone or grains of sand goes inside the mollusk’s shell, a lustrous substance known as nacre, is discharged around the object so that the soft internal surface of the mollusk is protected. Nacre is basically a composite of two layers of materials aragonite and conchiolin. When layers upon layers of nacre eventually covers the irritant, a pearl is formed. A distinguishing iridescent luster is formed as a result of light that is reflected from these overlapping layers. This process of formation of natural pearls may take up to seven to eight years. Valuable pearls are those which are perfectly symmetrical, have a shimmering iridescence called orient luster, are naturally formed and are relatively large. Natural pearls are rare because they are created by chance.
Today, however, pearls are refined by man. In fact, almost all pearls currently being sold in the market and set on jewelleries like ring, bracelet, necklace, pendant, earring, engagement ring, eternity ring etc, are refined. They are produced when a foreign substance (known as nucleus) is carefully inserted into the body of an oyster or mussel by man. It is thereafter left on nature to create its miracle. Oysters are thereby cultivated and harvested in large numbers so that pearls can be grown within them. However, cultured pearls can be well distinguished from natural pearls by X-ray examination. A cultured pearl with a bead nucleus reveals a different structure to that of natural pearls when X-rayed. The culturing process is a matter of several years.
Another formation procedure is imitation pearls. They are simply made of coral, mother-of-pearl or conch shell. There are others which are made from glass and coated with essence d’Orient, a solution made of fish scales. They normally do not possess the same weight, luster or smoothness as natural pearls.
Sources of Pearls
Pearls are cultured and found in waters all over the world. Sources of natural sea pearls are Japan, Australia, Central America, the Persian Gulf, the cost of Madagascar, the Gulf of Manaar, Burma, the South Pacific Islands, the Philippines, and South America. Sources of natural river pearls are Asia, North America and Europe. Sources of cultured seawater pearls are Australia, Southeast Asia, French Polynesia, China, South Pacific Islands and even the Philippines. Japan and China are the sources of cultured freshwater pearl.
Because of their widespread availability, pearls are popular as jewelry gemstone, and are extensively used in earrings, bracelets, rings, pendants, necklaces, engagement rings, eternity rings as well as bridal set rings.
Pearl Color and Properties
Pearls come in a range of colours like green, white, blue, silver, cream, black and golden. Some pearls have a certain degree of iridescence, known as orient. Colour is rarely purely white as they are more often white with shades of blue, pink and green colour. The variation in colours depends on the type of mollusk and the type of water where the mollusk lived.
The degree of pearl luster depends on the quality of the nacre present. Good quality pearls should have a shiny luster and should have a smooth and blemish-free surface. Pearls can come in shapes like round, pear, oval or can also be misshapen which is known as baroque pearls. The size of the pearl depends on the type of mollusk that they are formed in. The size generally varies from 2mm to 16 mm in diameter.
Healing Properties of Pearl
Pearl when worn as ring, earrings, bracelet, necklace, pendant, engagement ring and eternity ring are known to bless the wearer with a number of benefits. Pearls ensure a happy conjugal life. They bless the wearer with a long life, vitality, wealth and richness. White pearl is known to bless the wearer with fame and good fortune. Pearls are known to boost energy and heals ear diseases. They are known to have a positive effect on the lungs, heart, liver, kidney, urinary tract, etc. They are known to be blessed with laxative and sedative effect and are known to lower acidity and minimises the effects of poison. Pearls are also known to protect the wearer against evil eyes and against risky and hasty commercial transactions.
In short, pearl is known to bring the wearer happiness, wealth, wisdom, prosperity. It saves one from certain misfortune and protects beauty, health and youth.
The Collection of Pearl at AG & Sons
AG & Sons boast of an array of beautiful pearl ring, pearl earring, pearl bracelet, pearl necklace, pearl pendant, pearl engagement ring, pearl eternity ring and pearl bridal set ring. We have pearls in all types, colours and designs and nothing can beat our style which is a blend of traditional and contemporary. They were amongst the most fashionable pieces of jewelleries in your grandmother’s wardrobe and needless to say their beauty, elegance and charm still makes it as much desirable for the modern women.