The pearl is the oldest gem known to man, for centuries a symbol of purity, wisdom, beauty and wealth. The main beauty of pearls lies in the fact that when the right pearl colour and shape is matched to your complexion, natural light bounces off the pearls surface and literally “lights-up” your face, making you look brighter and more awake. This has been recognized since the beginning of civilization and their story is full of symbolism and romance.
- War: In the Roman era pearls were a measure of wealth. As such, Julius Caesar invaded England in 55BC to get a hold of the bounty of natural pearls found in Scotland.
- Aphrodisiac: In the Middle Ages alchemists believed a pearl was formed when a single teardrop from an angel fell from the heavens. They also believed that pearls when dissolved in lemon juice could resuscitate the dead, cure heart trouble, impotence, timidity, melancholia, madness and fever!
- Size Matters: The Peregrina was the largest natural pearl ever reported - the size of a pigeon’s egg. The pearl was found in the Americas by a slave and became the most highly regarded jewel of the 16th century. Worn throughout history by the most stylish women (including Elizabeth Taylor) it finally sold for $12 million by Christies Auction House in 2011.
- Counterfeit: In the 17th Century a Frenchman created imitation pearls by using “essence of the orient” - a mixture of fish slime and lacquer! How disgusting. A practice still used today by large imitation pearl manufacturers.
- Hello Popular: The greatest peak in popularity for natural pearls was the end of the 19th Century due to an increasing demand for rich rather than ‘showy’ jewellery - seeing as pearls have always been noted for having a refining effect. Cartier acquired their New York premises when they sold a double row of natural saltwater pearls (then valued at $ 1 million+) to a woman in exchange for her New York town house.
- Affordable Dream: Mikimoto, born in 1858 to noodle vendors, had a dream that every woman should have the opportunity to own a pearl necklace. Quite a dream as natural pearls were only owned by the super-rich! He therefore turned to cultured pearls (pearls with some human intervention). Originally cultured pearls were viewed as “fake natural” pearls, but within a few years the best jewellers in the world recognised them for their individuality and beauty – Mikomoto achieved his dream.
- Not just white: Although we tend to think that pearls are white, they actually come in all the colours of the rainbow. For example, in the 1930’s cultured pearls emerged from Lake Biwa in natural colours never seen before like peach, pink, orange, mauve and heather! This wealth of colour means that we can always match the perfect pearl to your unique complexion – making you feel beautifully confident.