Pearls are wondrous gifts of nature that have been treasured for centuries. They are the official birthstone for the month of June and for the astrological starsign of Cancer.
An organic gem, pearls are formed inside mollusks such as oysters and mussels. They are formed when an irritant such as a grain of sand or a tiny stone gets inside the mollusks shell. A lustrous substance, called nacre is secreted around the irritant to protect the soft internal surface of the mollusk. As layer upon layer of nacre coats the object, a pearl is formed. The light that is reflected from these overlapping layers of nacre produces a characteristic iridescent lustre. This process of forming a solid pearl can take up to eight years.
Pearls vary in shape and colour from white to those with hints of colour, often pink, to brown or black. Each colouration will depend on the type of mollusk and the water in which the mollusk lived.
Healing, Health & Wellbeing
Pearls are said to give the wearer a sense of calmness, to promote faith, loyalty, truth and purity. They have been used in a number of cultures to help women connect with their "inner goddesses" and obtain the ultimate "feminine energy".
Proponents allege that the pearl helps to balance the human body's natural rhythms and hormone levels with lunar cycles. There are also those that claim the pearl can bring inner wisdom and help to strengthen and nurture the growth of love. Pearl are thought to have very strong magnetic powers and have been used in gem therapy to strengthen the nerves, the adrenal glands, the spleen and muscle tissue.
Each pearl colour is said to project a message. White pearls are said to promote good health. Black pearls are said to bring luck. Cream pearls project success, gold is said to bring good fortune, lavender pearls are a symbol of love and pink bring happiness to the wearer.
Pearls are believed to enlighten the mind and inspire the mood while helping the wearer learn to love themselves more and in turn, help to love others more as well.
History & Legend
Greek mythology proclaimed pearls to be tears of joy shed by the Goddess Aphrodite. Ancient Egyptians associated pearls with Isis, the Goddess of life and healing. An Arab legend tells a tale of dewdrops filled with moonlight that fell into the ocean and were swallowed by oysters, creating precious pearls. According to the King James Bible, the gates of heaven are made of pearls.
It is said that Cleopatra dissolved a single pearl in a glass of wine and drank it, simply to win a wager with Mark Antony that she could consume the wealth of an entire nation in just one meal.
There are so many references in history to this most beautiful lustrous jewel, they are often seen in famous paintings as jewellery, hair decoration and clothing adornments.
During European expansion into the New World, the discovery of pearls in the central American waters added to the wealth of Europe. Sadly, greed and lust for the beautiful sea grown gems resulted in the depletion of virtually all of the American pearl oyster populations by the 17th century. Until the 1900's all naturally grown pearls were accessible only to the rich and famous. In 1916, the famous French jeweller Jacques Cartier bought his landmark store on New York's famous Fifth Avenue by trading two pearl necklaces for the extremely valuable property.
Today, with the advent of pearl cultivation, pearls are available and affordable to all.
The timeless appeal and magic of pearls have delighted and inspired people for ages. These treasures from the sea have invited many comments by people who have been captivated by their rarity and beauty.
"A woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls" ~ Coco Chanel
"I favour pearls on screen and in my private life" ~ Grace Kelly
"Full fathom five thy father lies; Of his bones are coral made. Those are pearls that were his eyes. Nothing of him that doth fade. But doth suffer a sea-change into something rich and strange" ~ Shakespeare
"Pearls are always appropriate" ~ Jackie Kennedy
"Pearls lie not on the seashore. if thou desirest one, thou must dive for it" ~ Chinese Proverb
"A pearl is a beautiful thing, created by an injured life. It is the tear from the injured oyster' ~ Stephan Hoeller
Pearls are one of the world's only organic gemstones and therefore, tend to be quite delicate. Proper care of your pearl jewellery is essential to ensure that your investment will last.
It is advisable to remove your pearl jewellery when you are doing any rough work that could damage the surface of the pearl. I also recommend taking your jewellery off when washing your hands, showering and sleeping. Avoid wearing pearl jewellery when cleaning, swimming, visiting spas and saunas as the chemicals used in this kind of environment could damage the lustre of the pearl.
Cleaning products and personal care products such as creams, hairsprays and perfume can severely damage the lustre of pearls. Natural body acids in body oils and perspiration can also damage them in the same way. It is best to put your jewellery on at least 30 minutes after applying any personal care products. Wiping the peals with a soft damp cloth after you've worn them will ensure that they remain free from a harmful build up of compounds that may damage the nacre of the pearl.
Try to keep your pearl jewellery separate from heavier pieces of jewellery to prevent them from being scratched. Pearls are best kept inside a softly lined box or cloth pouch.
I understand that accidents happen and that damaged pearls are not uncommon, so please keep in mind that I do offer a repair service should you require it.
Be mindful and gentle with your pearl treasures and they will last you a lifetime.