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Facts About Pearls: The Ocean's Jewels

Wave Tribe

Pearls are a natural, organic, and environmentally-sustaining gems.

Published by Wave Tribe

Pearls are beautiful adornments that can transform any woman into an epitome of sophistication.

If you’re a fan of jewelry pieces and specifically prefer pearls more than diamonds, you would undoubtedly enjoy knowing some facts about pearls with this article. Since the beginning of time, pearls have been revered as one of the world’s most precious and beautiful gems.

They are the foundation of many women’s jewelry wardrobe. Pearls are adored and desired because of how they can take a woman through every moment in her life. Pearls can magically transform a woman and make her look more feminine and sophisticated, truly enhancing her styles’ palette.

They are called ocean’s gems or jewels because of their beauty, rarity, and how difficult and risky it is to harvest them. Due to these, natural pearls have incredibly high value and can cost millions of bucks that only the nobility can hold and possess. Pearls come from a living sea creature which is the oyster. These beautiful, perfect, round jewels result from a biological process within the oyster as it protects itself from foreign substances.

Pearls that form naturally inside oysters are called natural pearls. Though, sometimes, oysters get some aid from pearl harvesters. They open oysters, cut tiny slits in the mantle, and insert minor irritants underneath. Cultured pearls are being produced in this human-made process. Cultured and natural pearls are considered to be of equal quality. Though, cultured pearls are often less expensive because they're not as rare. Either way, both having beautiful colors and iridescence, without a doubt, make them want to be owned by many.

Here's what you can find in this article:

The History of Pearls

In history, human beings have probably found the first pearl white while searching the seashore for food. With its subtle and sophisticated quality and features, the pearl has been one of the most high-priced and coveted gems throughout history. From the earliest times, numerous references to the pearl can be found in mythology and religions. The ancient Egyptians even highly valued pearls. When they died, pearls were buried with them.

Everyone knows that pearls symbolize wealth and social standing. This is considered to be true in ancient Rome. Valiant knights wore pearls into battles during the dark ages, and maidens of high rank also treasured dainty pearl necklaces so dearly. Pearls were crucial in fighting as they believed that these luminous jewels would keep them safe from any danger. In European countries, pearls were popular and highly regarded, that they passed laws prohibiting anyone but the aristocrats from wearing pearls.

Pearl necklaces symbolizes high status among women in history.

There was an expansion in the wealth of Europe after the discovery of pearls in Central American waters. However, by the 17th century, greed for these pearls resulted in decreased American pearl oyster populations. The natural pearls were also accessible only to the wealthy and well-known until the early 1900s. In 1916, Jacques Cartier, a French jeweler, purchased his landmark store on New York's famous Fifth Avenue by trading two pearl necklaces for the property.

Natural and Cultured Pearls: The Difference

Natural pearls are formed naturally by sea oysters without the aid of pearl harvesters. When a natural irritant such as a fragment of shell or a scale embeds inside an oyster, it gets coated with layers of nacre. Pearl-producing oysters were nearly hunted to extinction, making natural pearls scarce. Today, 1 in about 10,000 wild oysters will produce a pearl, and of those, only a tiny percentage achieve the size, shape, color, and overall features desirable to the jewelry industry.

Natural pearls produced without
human intervention.

On the other hand, cultured pearls, just like natural ones, are genuine pearls. The only difference is that they are formed inside a living oyster with human intervention. A nucleus is surgically implanted in the flesh of the oyster. The pearl-producing creature will recognize it as an irritant and begin to coat it with layers of nacre. With time, the pearl gets completely covered with this beautiful shimmering substance. In today’s time, pearls being sold are primarily cultured pearls, while the natural pearls mostly from history are in museums or being auctioned.

Cultured pearls produced with an aid of
human intervention.

Facts About The Ocean’s Jewels

Let’s be honest. Pearls are not even considered stones, yet their uniqueness and elegance overshadow every expensive stone regarding history and symbolism. Here are some facts about pearls that prove they are the most unique and exquisite pieces.

  1. The nacre or the surface coating of a pearl makes it beautiful due to the shiny luster and smooth look. However, nacre is made up of millions of crystals, so it’s not soft like how it looks. This is why a standard test for an authentic pearl is to rub it on your teeth. The roughness will be felt like a grittiness which indicates a natural pearl.

  2. Pearls are believed to have various medicinal properties and are being ingested. They are crushed into powder and used in cosmetics for skin treatments. For centuries, pearl powder has been used in countries like China and India.

  3. In history, only the nobility and royalty could wear pearls. It was the same in Elizabethan England, where pearls were downright valuable that only royalty and the upper classes were allowed to wear.

  4. Pearls form in a variety of colors. Some other popular colors include blue, black, and lavender. If you’re wondering where the pearls get their color, it’s from the oyster’s interior shell lining. They aren’t only gold, white, or cream.

  5. South Sea pearls produce the largest pearl size. They are also the rarest and most expensive. Even though they are cultured, the production is limited as the oysters only thrive under specific conditions.

  6. One interesting pearl legend is Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, demonstrating Egypt’s wealth to impress the Roman Empire. Legend has it that she dissolved a pearl earring into vinegar and drank it, making the meal the most expensive banquet ever hosted.

  7. One pearl-producing oyster can create pearls over and over again, and as they age, they produce more delicate and better pearls.

  8. Toba-Mikimoto Pearl Island is the birthplace of cultured pearls. In the present, the place is a tourist attraction with exhibitions of pearls. Visitors can learn about how pearls are processed and watch sea women harvest oysters in a demonstration.

  9. The La Peregrina (The Wanderer) is the most expensive jewelry ever auctioned, which was last owned by Hollywood royalty, Elizabeth Taylor. But before that, the owner was different over time from Queen Mary of England to Napoleon Bonaparte of France and many other known personages. It brought in over $11 million.

  10. The most expensive pearl is a clam pearl found off the Philippines’ coast and valued at $100 million. It was found by a fisherman who kept it under his bed for many years without realizing its value.

Pearls are one of the most beautiful gems that our nature offers. Just like any other marine species, production of pearls is dependent on the condition of the oceans. It is important to take care of our bodies of water to see more of these unique and iridescent ocean jewels.

— Derek Dodds, Wave Tribe Founder

Final Words

Pearls are gifts to oceans and even humans. They are the wonders of nature that are even gifts to our sight. Pearls can only be produced in certain conditions. They can only thrive in peaceful, calm, and clean oceans. Imagine what would happen if humans would go overboard and have all our oceans get incredibly polluted with plastics. It might overwhelm the oysters, and no pearls would no longer be harvested and be enjoyed by men and women as gifts and adornments. Well, these facts about pearls would never have existed in history if our oceans were never clean. We hope that in the future, many pearls would still be gracing our oceans.

To make that happen, you can help by getting yourself involved in Wave Tribe’s Heal the Oceans campaign to preserve our oceans by reducing the use of plastics that kill marine life and take a toll on the marine ecosystem, which includes the formation of pearls and the existence of the pearl-producing oysters. Clean-ups would also be a massive help and are highly encouraged. As a stepping stone, we also deliver eco-surfing products that surfers who care for the waters can enjoy without harming our oceans. There are numerous ways to do our part in this endeavor.

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