A Deep Dive Into Pearls – The Natural Gem

Background

Pearls, which are regarded as the world’s oldest gem, have been prized for over 4,000 years. Pearls are mentioned in several historical and religious texts from all over the world, and all these documents demonstrate how highly the people loved pearls. Pearls are the only jewels that originate from a living being. A mollusk creates a natural pearl, such as an oyster, clam, conch, or gastropod. Pearls are created when a foreign object becomes stuck inside the mollusk. The mollusk secretes the minerals aragonite and conchiolin, which are also used to develop its shell to defend itself. A pearl is created because of the layered secretion of these components. [1]

Pearls are renowned for their incomparable beauty, which stems from their distinctive radiance, often known as a jewel’s luster. The white and nearly round gems remain the most popular despite coming in various sizes and forms. Pearls are priceless treasures found in ponds, lakes, seas, and oceans. Over the years, pearls have served as a symbol of love, purity, fertility, dominion, and power. They were prized by kings, queens, Maharajas, and Chinese Emperors.

Historical Background on the Discovery of Pearl

Pearls are regarded as the world’s oldest treasure. Major religious writings, including the Bible and the Koran, mention them. The origin of pearls was frequently described in terms of mythology and cosmology. Although, no clear records reveal the first individuals who acquired and wore pearls. An ancient fish-eating culture, maybe around the coast of India, was said to have been the first to find saltwater pearls when they were opening oysters for sustenance, according to George Frederick Kunz, an American gemologist, in his 1908 classic The Book of the Pearl. In ancient India, pearls were prized as a link between the gods and humans since it was thought they were created from the dewdrops of heaven. Persian tales also regarded the pearl as a representation of hope and brightness created from gods’ tears. [2]

Several articles have reported that Egypt used pearl shells as decorative items as early as the fourth millennium B.C. Moreover, the discovery of a piece of pearl jewelry in the sarcophagus of a Persian princess from 420 BC, which is currently on exhibit at the Louvre in Paris, has provided evidence that these precious gems have been worn as decoration for millennia. [2] [3]

Chinese Beliefs on Pearls (2300 BC)

Chinese Beliefs on Pearl

The Chinese highly valued pearls as both personal items and preferred presents for the aristocracy. The Chinese have a long-standing deep connection with golden pearls and consider them lucky and prosperous. Chinese paintings frequently feature dragons with golden pearls in their mouths or claws. A traditional Chinese tale claimed that pearls would fall from the heavens when dragons battled above the clouds. Another urban legend claims that pearls are the result of raindrops being ingested by oysters. In a legend from antiquity, a kid discovered a great pearl. When put in a jar with just a little rice, it produced enough rice the following day to fill the jar. When his neighbors learned about this, they tried to steal it. To keep the pearl safe, the boy swallowed it. Due to this, he evolved into a dragon. In Chinese records dating back to 2300 BC, pearls are first mentioned. The Hwai River in the King Hau province was where freshwater pearls were first discovered. [3]

The Egyptian Story of Pearls (3200 BC)

Mother of Pearl box

Although pearls themselves don’t appear to have been utilized in Egypt, decorative mother-of-pearl was used in Egypt at least as far back as 3200 B.C. At least as early as the sixth dynasty, or around 3200 B.C., the time of the Tanis Sphinx, the mother-of-pearl shell was used as a decoration in ancient Egypt. Dr. James T. Dennis writes in a recent letter from Luxor, where he is researching the ruins of ancient Thebes that he has discovered numerous of these shells with cartouches from that time. In the “pan-bearing” burials of the twelfth dynasty (2500 B.C.), the shell also appeared cut into roughly circular or rectangular angular chunks and strung on chains with beads of carnelian, pottery, etc. [3]

The Hindus Belief in Pearls

Krishna wearing pearls

Regardless of where it began, a reverence for pearls spread around the globe over the next millennia. Numerous ancient Hindu texts mention pearls, and one of them claims that the god Krishna found the first pearl. According to one myth, the Hindu god Krishna discovers pearls when he fishes out the first one and gives it to his daughter Panda at her wedding. The ancient epic poem Ramayana also mentions pearls when it mentions a necklace made up of 27 pearls. In the Rig-Veda, the earliest of the Vedas, pearls were said about 3,000 years ago in India. The Atharveda mentions an amulet made of pearls employed as a talisman in India 2,500 years ago. Important stories also link the Hindu deity, Krishna, to pearls.

The Discovery of Pearl in the Persian Gulf (5000-6000 BC)

Pearl Fountain Doha Qatar

Archaeological evidence from the Late Stone Age, between 6000 and 5000 BC, indicates that the natural pearl was the center of life in the Persian Gulf for centuries. This object, which appeared randomly throughout the planet, introduced not only a specialty dhow trade to the Gulf but also enormous risks to the divers who sought it out. On the Arabian side, the original pearl grounds extended from Kuwait along the Saudi Arabian coast to Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and the Sultanate of Oman. Additionally, they extended almost the Persian side of the Gulf’s coastline, from close to Bandar-e Bushehr to Bandar-e Lengeh in the south and even further south towards the Strait of Hormuz.

The Roman Empire (55BC)

For the Romans, pearls represented riches, status, and godliness. They took this quite literally and used the best, most enormous, and most identically shaped earrings they could find to adorn the marble statue of the goddess Venus. Rome experienced the height of the pearl mania. Roman women walked on the hems of their gowns because they had so many pearls sewn into them and upholstered sofas with them. Caligula even gave his horse a pearl necklace. They tried to forbid individuals who did not deserve pearls from wearing them because of how passionately they felt about their more significant value. According to one legend, Cleopatra wagered Marc Anthony during a feast she hosted in his honor so that she could prepare the most expensive drink ever served. She dissolved her pearl earrings in vinegar, making a pearly cocktail, and without a doubt, she won the bet. According to Pliny, the first gemologist in recorded history, the two pearls were reportedly valued at 60 million sesterces or 1,875,000 ounces of pure silver at $9,375,000. In fact, because of Cleopatra’s extreme fixation with pearls, Julius Caesar invaded Britain in 55 B.C. to steal these exquisite gems, which were plentiful in Scotland’s rivers. [4]

The Pearl Age (1500- 1800)

The initial expeditions of Christopher Columbus and other Spaniards, which took place in the 15th and 16th centuries, were significant in the history of pearls because they led to the discovery of pearl oyster banks in Central and South America. As a result, the Spanish monarchy enjoyed tremendous prosperity, and European aristocracy and royals experienced the “Pearl Age.”

Queen Elizabeth 1 adorned with pearls

As evidence of this excellent pearl era, Elizabeth I is covered in these magnificent stones in George Gower’s famed Armada image from 1590, demonstrating her position of power to the world. With their delicate glow and iridescent glitter, pearls became the ideal symbol of social status and prosperity. Consequently, wearing pearls by people who weren’t nobles was outlawed in many European royal courts throughout the Renaissance.

The Beginning of Pearl Farming (1890-1920)

A treasure hunt akin to the California gold rush began in the 1800s when pearls were discovered in the Upper Mississippi River. Numerous pearl oyster banks were destroyed because of the overfishing of wild oysters in the Americas, French Polynesia, the Gulf of Mannar, and other regions pursuing fine natural pearls. Because of these events, natural pearl production started to dwindle towards the end of the 1800s. [5]

Kokichi Mikimoto

Japanese scientists explored methods to cultivate pearls in the late 1800s and early 1900s to enhance the supply and satisfy the expanding demand for pearls. Kokichi Mikimoto and his wife, Ume, the first and most well-known in the pearl farming industry, employed a method created by the British/Australian marine biologist William Saville-Kent. Kokichi was a persuasion guru and a forerunner in the cultivated pearl business. He persuaded customers that these cultured pearls were equally valuable as genuine pearls. The era of pearl farming therefore began. [3]

Natural pearls lost a significant amount of value after cultured pearls were introduced in the early 1900s, reshaping the entire pearl industry. Although Mikimoto had to continuously defend himself against claims that his pearls were not “genuine,” 350 pearl farms in Japan produced 10 million cultured pearls annually by 1935. Contrary to popular belief, scientific evidence showed that farmed pearls had the same qualities as pearls created on deep seabeds; the only distinction was that cultivated pearls received assistance in initiating the natural process. [2]

Pears in the Roaring ’20s (1920 to Present)

Mikimoto, followed by many other Japanese businesses, perfected the procedures of pearl farming, and made pearls widely accessible worldwide. Flappers of the Roaring 20s used pearl necklaces; Coco Chanel made them fashionable in the 1930s, and other Hollywood actresses later popularized the look.

Chanel debuted a high jewelry line featuring the traditional pearl in 2014, drawing inspiration from Mademoiselle’s love of the stone. Another famous person who wore pearls was Jackie Kennedy, whose trademark triple-strand pearl necklace featured glass replicas of real gems. Pearls are also associated with Audrey Hepburn, whether it be a pearl necklace or a pair of pearl earrings that discreetly accentuate her gamine features.

Jewelers with a reputation for innovation, like Boghossian and Hemmerle, are incorporating pearls in unexpected shapes and brilliant colors into one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces. To commemorate 25 years as a jewelry designer, Annoushka debuted the Golden Pearls collection exclusively at Harrods in 2015. The rare South Sea pearls with a deep and flawlessly pristine golden shine from Iloilo, an exotic island in the Philippines, are featured in the Art Deco-inspired necklace, pendants, earrings, and cocktail pearl ring.

Australian pearl brand Autore debuted its Orchid line at Baselworld in 2015, drawing inspiration from the native Australian flowers. The stunning collection of flawless South Sea and Tahitian pearls, along with flowers made of colored gemstones, were all fished from the ocean off the coast of Australia because Autore not only creates exquisite pearl jewelry but also owns a successful pearl farm and is a significant player in the South Sea pearl industry internationally. These sea wonders, from dramatic black pearls with their dark, iridescent shine to perfectly imperfect baroque pearls, have once again become a must-have gem as they confidently enter the twenty-first century. [2]

Types of Pearls

Most people see the traditional, creamy, white, flawless spheres of pearls when they think of pearls. But this is just one of the different classifications for pearls. There are numerous varieties of pearls, and they vary widely in terms of color, size, form, and country of origin. Not all of them are smooth and spherical. Most pearls offered for sale today are “cultured pearls,” meaning they were created with human intervention. They have not developed organically, giving rise to various sorts of pearls, yet they are still genuine pearls. [7] [8]

A. Natural vs. Cultured Pearls

  1. Natural pearls develop naturally in mollusks or oysters because of an irritant entering the animal. To counteract the irritation, the animal then secretes successive layers of nacre, which is how the pearl gradually develops. This is a lengthy, laborious process that could take many years.
  2. The term “cultured pearls” describes pearls that have been grown and harvested. In these “farms,” oysters or other mollusks are raised in environments that are as natural as possible. The primary distinction is that people carefully implant the irritant, or pearl nucleus, into the organism before letting the oyster perform its function. The organism will coat the nucleus with nacre, just as it does in nature, producing a stunning pearl. Most pearls available today are cultivated, which are more widely available and reasonably priced. Due to their exceptional rarity and high cost, natural pearls are out of most consumers’ price ranges.

B. Freshwater vs. Saltwater Pearls

  1. Sea oysters produce saltwater pearls commonly gathered in places like Australia, Tahiti, Thailand, and Indonesia. Saltwater pearls form more slowly, have superior luster, and are of more outstanding quality than freshwater pearls. However, they can also be a little less sturdy and cost more. They develop over several years, and since the irritant introduced into the oyster is relatively large, the nacre that develops to cover it is pretty thin and of higher quality. Due to their prolonged growth period, saltwater pearls used to be significantly larger than their freshwater counterparts. Compared to freshwater, saltwater pearls shine more brilliantly and appear more lustrous. Most buyers favor saltwater pearls in part because of their heightened luster.
  2. Freshwater sources, such as rivers and lakes, are where different species of mussels are raised to produce freshwater pearls. These are primarily grown in China, while significant suppliers include Japan and the U.S. Depending on the farm, freshwater pearls can be made significantly more quickly, frequently in months. Freshwater pearls also vary because their implanted nucleus is much smaller, which causes them to be virtually entirely composed of nacre. Compared to saltwater pearls, which have a thinner nacre layer, freshwater pearls are less likely to chip or flake because of their thicker nacre coating.

C. Varieties of Pearls

  1. Akoya Pearls – The most common type of pearl is an Akoya pearl, which is found in the Akoya oyster. Most of these pearls are rounded and cultured, they usually come in white, light pink, and natural yellow colors. Most farmed Akoya pearls come from Japan and are more significant than 7 mm; smaller ones are made in Hong Kong, Korea, Sri Lanka, and China.

Akoya Pearl

  1. Biwa Pearls – These pearls are found in Biwa Lake, the largest lake in Japan. These pearls are known as freshwater pearls because they are grown in lakes. However, they continue to uphold their reputation for exceptional quality, which is why some dealers use the moniker “Biwa” to dupe unsuspecting customers into purchasing fake pearls. Despite having a similar composition to freshwater pearls, biwa pearls are unique since they are the first of their kind to be farmed. These days, those searching for Biwa pearls are either collectors, vintage enthusiasts, or those seeking out something special.
  2. Black Pearls- The La Paz pearl oyster, the rainbow-lipped oyster, found in the eastern Pacific between Baja California and Peru, and the black-lip oyster, located in the west to the central Pacific Ocean, are all capable of producing black pearls. These oysters all generate naturally black pearls. Furthermore, the term “black pearls” often refers to naturally black pearls, dyed black, or pearls of any other dark hue.
  3. Blister Pearls- Blister pearls are those that become embedded in the mother of pearl shell and take on the appearance of blisters. The benefit of this pearl is that it may be cultured into various forms, such as a square, heart, or teardrop.
  4. Blue Abalone Pearls- Blue pearls are produced by the abalone, a snail species. But before 1989, pearls were hardly ever discovered in abalone. These abalone pearls are tough to come by and are extremely rare. These snails are frequently seen off the coasts of Oregon, Mexico, Alaska, California, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Korea, and Japan. Even though these pearls are often blue, they are available in a few different hues. Among their colorations are green, pink, purple, silver, and cream white. Natural abalone pearls have a baroque shape and are used to create expensive jewelry.
  5. Conch Pearls- One pearl is discovered in every 10,000 conchs, making conch pearls one of the rarest pearls. Although pearls are often sold for $500 per carat, higher-quality varieties can easily cost more than $2,000 per carat. The Caribbean is home to the giant sea snail known as the conch. Despite frequently being pink, these conch pearls can also be found in brown and white.
  6. Kasumi Pearls- An artificial pearl created at Lake Kasumiga, north of Tokyo, is known as a Kasumiga pearl. They are made by the hybrid mussel Hyriopsis cumingii and Hyriopsis schlegelii. These pearls were only offered in modest quantities when they were first brought to the market in the 1990s. Pink, purple, gold, and white pearls are among the variety of these pearls. Kasumi pearls, which range in size from 11 to 16 mm, are regarded as large-sized pearls.
  7. The Keshi Pearls- A pearl-bearing cultured mollusk’s soft tissue or abductor’s muscle are where a Keshi pearl naturally develops. The term “Keshi” denotes tiny natural pearls even before pearls were cultivated. Keshi pearls are well known for their unique shapes and stunning shine. These pearls are highly stylish and perfect for free-form outfits as a result. Keshi pearls can be found in freshwater or saltwater, with saltwater Keshi Pearls being the most popular. These gems are highly prized by those who continue to believe in astronomy. Pure Pearls is one of the few jewelry stores that sell scarce freshwater natural Keshi pearls.
  8. Melo Pearls- A Melo pearl is a naturally occurring but uncommon variety of pearls that develops inside sea snails known as melon shells, boat shells, or bailer shells in Malaysia, the South China Sea, or Singapore. These pearls typically weigh 200 carats and are huge. They have a distinctive wavy pattern and come in yellow, brown, and orange colors.
  9. Quahog Pearls – A quahog pearl, also known as a hard-shell pearl, cherrystone pearl, round pearl, or small neck pearl, is a dark-colored pearl found in hard clams. The hard clam is a common sight along the North American coastline, an edible bivalve mollusk. Quahog pearls can be rather pricey as one of the rarest varieties of pearls.
  10. Rainbow Pearls – Rainbow pearls are pearls with three or more different color variants. These pearls are often produced by the Pacific Coast, California, Peru, and Mexico-native Western winged or rainbow-lipped pearl oysters. When these pearls form naturally, they can range in size from the size of a seed to 20 carats, with prices per carat ranging from $100 to $2000. They are less expensive than genuine rainbow pearls and range in diameter from 7 to 12 mm because they are cultured sometimes.
  11. South Sea Pearls – The enormous white or yellow pearls generated in the Pinctada maxima oyster are known as South Sea pearls. It is a yellow lip oyster or a silver lip oyster and is a native of the South Seas. A few South Sea pearls can be found in the salty waters of Indonesia, the Philippines, French Polynesia, and Australia. These pearls range from 9 to 19 mm, but they can be any size.

South Sea Pearl

  1. Tahitian pearls – Only Tahitian pearls naturally come in shades of peacock, grey, and black. They are created by the dark-skinned Pinctada Margaritifera Mussel, which is present in French Polynesian waters. Although they can also be found in deep green, brown, and blue hues, Tahitian pearls are typically dark in color. The beauty of high-quality Tahitian pearls is extraordinary. Sometimes the luster is so strong that it almost seems metallic! Tahitian Pearls are highly precious and appealing due to this trait and their attractive colors.

Tahitian Pearl

  1. Baroque Pearl – Baroque pearls are non-spherical, irregularly shaped pearls. Shapes can be vaguely oval, curled, pinched, bumpy, or slight deviations. Because freshwater pearls are mantle-tissue nucleated rather than bead nucleated, most cultured freshwater pearls are baroque. Cultured saltwater pearls can also be baroque, but because a spherical nucleation bead is used, they typically have a teardrop shape. Although traditional pearls are typically more valuable, some prefer baroque pearls for their distinctive bodies. A classic pearl’s price is based on its size; the larger, the better. As a result of their color and gloss, baroque pearls command greater prices. Customers will spend money to purchase the darker baroque pearls because the white and pink ones are much more affordable.

Baroque Pearl

What are the Odds of Finding Pearl in an Oyster?

A pearl was unexpectedly discovered in the couple’s entrée on a recent dinner date in New Jersey. The tale of Michael Spressler, who was eating the last clam when he felt an unanticipated thing roll around in his mouth, was recently published. He initially believed he had broken a tooth, but it turned out that the little sphere was a priceless sea pearl. [9]

But what are the odds of finding a pearl in an oyster or any other kind of mollusk? The likelihood of discovering one is about one in 10,000, but you’ll typically find them hiding in oysters. Although it’s not as difficult as winning the lottery, the likelihood is still relatively small. The possibility of discovering an oyster that produces a pearl of gemstone quality is one in a million.

While the typical appraised value of the pearl’s customers finds on their dinner plates ranges from $200 to $400. Moreover, most of the pearls in the world are cultured, making up the remaining .005% of natural pearls.

Natural pearls typically range in size from 5 mm to 8.8 mm, but an 8.8 mm pearl was recently discovered at The Lobster House Restaurant in 2022. Given that the typical size of a pearl used in jewelry is 7mm, the discovery of this 8.8 mm object is regarded as fortunate. Interestingly, as unusual as it might seem, in December 2018, two distinct customers at two different New York City restaurants discovered a pearl in their oysters three weeks apart. [10]

Where to Find Oysters with Pearls?

The thought of opening an oyster and discovering a natural pearl to be collected can only be compared to finding an unopened treasure box at the bottom of the ocean. It is a thrilling and risky process that can produce stunning, long-lasting rewards in the form of pearls. Naturally, it’s frequently simpler to say than to accomplish to find natural pearls outdoors. While some have been fortunate and ordered oysters from seafood markets only to discover an exquisite pearl, you’ll typically need to put in some effort. Divers engaged in pearl hunting over a significant portion of that time mostly found most of the freshwater pearls in the Indian Ocean, especially between Sri Lanka and India. Additionally, a local island in the Persian Gulf is surrounded by many pearls. Moreover, oysters with pearls have been discovered in the waters of Asian countries like Japan and throughout South America’s coast and in those azure Caribbean waters. To find pearl oysters, you often need to dive down to depths of at least 40 feet and maybe even 125 feet while looking for marine pearls. Sadly, these waters are frequently dangerous, especially if you’re a new diver. [12]

The Pearl Farming Industry: Increasing the Odds

There has been a significant push for “farmed” pearls, which can be produced through human involvement due to the rarity of discovering a natural pearl. All mollusks can have natural pearls, but oysters are the most common place to find them. They occur when a mollusk’s protective shell layer is breached by a foreign object, like a sand particle. The mollusk produces the same substance used to line its shell, nacre, by secretion of various chemicals. The irritant is encased in this substance, which wraps it in successive layers of hard, shiny material to create a flawlessly smooth, stunning pearl. Although not consistently error-free, this process cannot be relied upon to take place at all. [11]

Numerous nations throughout the world cultivate pearl oysters to make cultivated pearls. However, only a few countries can produce significant amounts. Since its inception in the early 20th century, pearl farming has advanced significantly and grown to become a billion-dollar retail sector. It typically takes several years from the larval stage to harvest a high-quality cultured pearl; this is accomplished through various painstaking procedures and techniques. Ecological and socioeconomic variables heavily influence the production of high-quality cultivated pearls.

What is Pearl Farming?

Culturing pearl cultivation on a farm is known as pearl farming. To grow and mature a pearl, the pearl farmer nurtures and nucleates thousands of oysters over two to five years. To succeed, you need both talent and good fortune. Getting oysters for nucleation is a prerequisite before you can start pearl cultivation. In the past, this meant going oyster fishing in the sea. Breeding your pearls is now preferred by pearl growers since it is easier and more efficient. The farmer only needs to gather high-quality, already-on-the-farm oyster eggs and sperm. A new generation of larvae for the oyster farm is produced after the sperm and eggs are fertilized.

Under carefully monitored circumstances, oyster larvae are nurtured. They are let to float freely in the water, though. When they are a few weeks old, they are released into the “wild,” where they cling to solid objects like rocks. The larvae will develop into tiny baby oysters over the following months. Collectors finally collect them. They are then transferred to a different farm area that serves as a “nursery” for the younger animals. Based on the size and development of freshwater pearls, the baby oysters are raised there for 1-2 years until they are prepared for nucleation.

Surgery is involved in the nucleation process. The oyster is agitated by a foreign object that has been inserted inside of it. Then, to soothe that discomfort, it will cover the thing in the nacre it has secreted. This produces genuine pearls in sizes and shapes typical of farmed freshwater pearls. The oysters require a few weeks to recover from the invasive surgical procedure once they have been nucleated. Some oysters may reject the transplanted nuclei and expel them during that time. Other oysters might even become ill or pass away, while most will fully recover, raising the farm pearls’ market worth.

The survivors are placed in cages or nets and then into oyster beds. It may take a few months to several years for the pearl to grow fully after being fostered there. Pearl harvesting must start as soon as pearl development is finished. The cultured pearls are removed from the oysters, cleaned, patted dry, and sorted. The luster that freshwater pearls generate can further be enhanced by polishing them in water and salt for a more incredible sheen and glitter. [10]

Saving Marine Life through Pearl Farming

Some mollusk species nearly went extinct because of the primitive methods once employed to harvest pearls. The marine life was severely harmed by the overexploitation of the oyster and mollusk supplies. Consequently, a green strategy was required. The cultivation of pearl oysters specifically for harvesting pearls has grown into a separate industry known as “pearl farming,” The actual pearl harvesting is now carried out with much more excellent care. Additionally, some farmers have discovered ways to use oyster meat, which is often consumed locally, rather than just throwing the oysters away after harvesting. [13]

When pearl farming is managed appropriately, it has few adverse environmental effects and can potentially maintain the ecosystem. Here are the following reasons why pearl farming can benefit the environment. [14]

  1. Pearl production requires clean water for oysters. The oyster needs to be content to produce a high-quality pearl. Additionally, an oyster can only thrive in clear, unpolluted water rich in minerals and oxygen. Now that professionals know this, they ensure that freshwater and marine ecosystems have the highest quality water.
  2. Oysters and pearl mussels can purify water. Oysters can help clean the water and improve its quality even though they need a particular amount of cleanliness in their water to exist. Each oyster pearl can filter roughly 104 liters of water daily, and the mussel uses or “eats” the pollutants, such as algae.
  3. Oysters need fish to survive. Oysters also require food. They eat plankton and leftovers from fish and coral reefs to survive. As a result, pearl farms have reduced fishing in the area around them and keep coral reefs healthy. Freshwater pearls can also be farmed alongside edible fish species like carp. As a result, pearl farmers earn more money, fewer people need to go fishing, and fish and oysters coexist peacefully.
  4. The local industry is diversified by pearl farming. Pearl farming generates employment. Whether on pearl farms or in sister sectors like tourism and the various uses for pearl farming’s byproducts. As a result, less fishing is required in the villages near pearl farms, thus lowering the risk of overfishing.
  5. Good farming practices increase ocean biodiversity. According to studies, the number of fish species rises in a region where pearl farmers prioritize healthy farming methods. It might be because small fish can hide between the shells in oyster cages and because the fish consume creatures that are coated on the shells.
  6. Using oysters as a food source is sustainable. The meat of mussels and oysters is delectable, and a decent protein source; their shells are excellent sources of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and phosphorus. Furthermore, mussels and oysters can remain healthy while growing without antibiotics.

Even with the dangers to biodiversity that our planet’s oceans and rivers face, using excellent pearl farming techniques can positively affect the ecosystem. Many fish species benefit from pearl oyster farms’ robust growth, which can assist in maintaining biodiversity and supply nutrients for the oysters. The marine life and the pearl farms both benefit from this circumstance. Pearl farming has a favorable effect on local economies and has a positive environmental impact. Locals will have more employment opportunities, as a result, reducing their reliance on other pursuits like fishing.

Current Pearl Jewelry Trend and Prices

Pearl jewelry trends experienced rapid growth in 2021, and in 2022 they are not only expanding but also reaching entirely new heights! The world is paying note as the pearl revolution rapidly spreads throughout it. And while there are a lot of pearl jewelry styles that will be fashionable in the upcoming year, a few stand out since they are frequently featured in all fashion publications. [15]

The runways from last year raised pearl jewelry to a pedestal. These fashion weeks gave us a preview of what was to come, like how pearls were successfully exhibited as the primary jewelry trend in the Spring/Summer 2022 and Fall/Winter 2021–2022. Leading fashion publications, including Mary Claire, Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Glossy, and Bazar, are leading the way in showcasing trends in pearl jewelry. Dior’s Pearl Eyes Resort 2022 Show, a part of his Cruise Collection, made a stir and demonstrated that pearls are the newest and best in the business. Among the well-known designers obsessed with pearls are Simone Rocha, Carolina Herrera, Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel, and Dolce & Gabbana. [15]

If you’re a die-hard fan of high-end clothing and jewelry, you’ve heard about the recent auctions where natural pearls broke records for a price—a strand of 53 genuine saltwater pearls sold for US$2.9 million in 2014. The previous world auction record, set in 2011 for La Peregrina, an Elizabeth Taylor-owned pearl, was more than tripled in 2018 with the sale of a vast drop natural pearl pendant that belonged to the French Queen Marie Antoinette at Sotheby’s for a staggering US$32 million. On the other hand, cultured pearls are substantially less expensive, ranging from around $50 to over $165,000. [16]

Shape, size, color, luster, surface quality, nacre quality, and matching are the seven main factors influencing a pearl’s value. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) developed the seven value criteria for pearls to standardize pearl grading methods, much like the 4Cs of diamond valuation. The price ranges for each type of pearl are shown here as a primary indication of pearl prices for the years 2021 to 2022. However, prices may vary because they are determined independently by each jeweler.

The most exotic form of pearls, Tahitian pearls, are known for their extensive range of dark, natural colors. They are native to French Polynesia, Fiji, the Sea of Cortez, and the Cook Islands and are also referred to as “black pearls” or “black South Sea pearls.” The average price range for pearls of low grade is $200 USD, whereas Tahitian pearls of high quality can cost anywhere from $1000 to $36,000 USD.

The most popular round, white pearl type is an Akoya pearl. They are primarily raised as saltwater oyster species in Japan and China. The natural Akoya pearls produced by this species are pretty uncommon. Low to medium-quality Akoya pearls typically cost between US$100 and US$400, while the highest quality can cost US$6,000 or more.

The pearls that are most frequently used in jewelry nowadays are freshwater pearls. As a result, they are the market’s most cheap varieties of pearls. In China, freshwater pearls are frequently grown throughout rivers, lakes, and ponds; more recently, production of these pearls has also increased in Southeast Asia. Depending on the quality, you may purchase it for $20, $65 to $5,000, or more.

The most expensive cultured pearls in the world are South Sea pearls. They’re raised in Australia, Burma, Indonesia, and the Philippines using the giant pearl oyster Pinctada maxima. Low to medium-quality examples of this type of pearl cost between $200 and $250 to 450 dollars, while the most expensive examples can cost between $1,200 and 135,000 dollars or more. [16]

20 Most Interesting Facts About Pearls 

Long before science and marine biology could explain the origin of pearls, they have attracted man from the earliest of times. As a result, there are numerous stories, amazing myths, and legends, all of which add to the current definition of pearls. Their hues, standard, and place of origin also matter. Here is a list of the most interesting facts regarding this priceless treasure.

  1. La Peregrina – The largest pear-shaped pearl ever discovered, and the size of a pigeon’s egg, is called La Peregrina, which translates to “The Incomparable,” found in the Americas. The latest owner of this incredible gemstone is rumored to have been Elizabeth Taylor. Over the years, it has been possessed by many renowned people, including Mary Tudor of England, Phillip II of Spain, and Napoleon III. It is undoubtedly the most well-known pearl in the world and was most recently sold at auction in 2011 for a record-breaking $11.8 million. It weighed 11.2 grams, or 223.8 grains, or 55.95 carts. The Spanish crown jewels held onto La Peregrina for the following 250 years, during which time it was worn intermittently by several Spanish queens, including Margaret of Austria, Elisabeth of France, and Mariana of Austria. La Peregrina was well-known before it was owned by one of America’s most renowned individuals, and it’s fascinating past only heightens the drama of its journey into Elizabeth Taylor’s hands. [18]
  2. The Pearl of Puerto – The largest known pearl in the world is called the Pearl of Puerto. This pearl was discovered in 1996, but it wasn’t until over ten years later that it was revealed to the public! The Filipino fisherman who found it relied on it as a lucky charm and kept it hidden in a sack under his bed for years. The pearl wasn’t discovered until it was given to a relative who works as a tourist officer in Puerto Princesa, Aileen Cynthia Maggay-Amurao. The stone needs to be certified, but Forbes estimates it might be worth over $100 million, while NPR forecasts that it would be roughly 170,000 carats. [19]
  3. Pearl of Lao Tzu – The Pearl of Lao Tzu is noteworthy for several reasons, but it is more appropriately known as the Pearl of Allah because many say it resembles a bearded, turban-wearing man. It lacks the iridescence that most people associate with pearls since it is a non-nacreous pearl. This pearl has drawn criticism because of its odd composition as well as incorrect claims that it is the missing pearl of Lao Tzu. Its 1930s discovery in the Philippines is the subject of an intriguing tale. American Wilburn Cobb made the discovery. The pearl is 9.45 inches long, 24 centimeters in diameter, and weighs almost 14 pounds. The pearl is almost entirely without luster yet is still quite perfect and is worth $3.5 million. [20]
  4. The Palawan Princess. The “Palawan Princess,” weighing 2.27 kg or 11,340 carats, is the second-largest non-nacreous baroque pearl ever found in a giant clam, Tridacna gigas, which was found in its natural habitat off the coast of the Philippine Islands of Palawan. The Cerebrum of the human brain is quite like a pearl. In this situation, the auction house Bonhams & Butterfields’ pre-sale estimate of $300,000 to $400,000 for the “Palawan Princess” is a very reasonable price. It would not be surprising if the winning offer exceeded the pre-sale estimate, given the characteristics mentioned above, including the pearl’s great rarity, its large size, its natural provenance, and, most all, the collector value attached to the pearl. [21]
  5. Ocean Pearl’s Beauty – The “Beauty of Ocean” Pearl is the world’s largest and most valuable pearl. This pearl’s unexpected shape was achieved after three years of grinding. The fluorite that makes up the green pearl could sparkle at night. It is five feet in height and weighs six tons, making it the largest pearl in the world. Such a treasure was discovered by chance in Mongolia, China. Such a wealthy location, full of pricey and valuable pearls and stones. A stone this expensive is valued at $139 million. [20]
  6. Only pearls are a gemstone that were once a living creature. Despite being a type of gemstone, pearls stand out from all others because they are the only gems that originate from a living thing. All other gems are created in the crust of the Earth as magma cools under intense pressure. [22]
  7. One of the rarest jewels in the world are natural pearls. Less than 1 in 10,000 wild oysters have pearls. Overfishing resulted in a dramatic decline in the population of naturally occurring oyster beds in the ocean’s waters as the demand for these gems grew in the early 20th century. The wild oyster population hasn’t fully rebounded despite the growth of produced pearls. Given this, it makes sense why people think that natural pearls are some of the world’s most uncommon jewels. [22]
  8. Kokichi Mikimoto Invented the First Artificial Round Pearl. It is said that Kokichi Mikimoto was the first person to produce a cultured pearl. In 1896, he finally succeeded and was granted a patent for cultured pearls after nearly 20 years of trial and error. The pearl business was badly harmed by this. Mikimoto’s discovery not only assisted in more sustainably meeting the world’s demand for pearls, but it also had a negative impact on the market for natural pearls. That’s because consumers started choosing these more affordable, rounder pearls. Today, many would contend that Mikomoto succeeded in realizing his ideal of “adorning the necks of all ladies over the world with pearls,” as he was reportedly quoted as saying.
  9. According to estimates, 99% of pearls available today are cultured. A movement that will forever alter the pearl industry started when Kokichi Mikimoto produced the first cultivated pearl. Since practically all natural pearls have already been harvested, today’s market is dominated by jewels that are produced. Not all mollusks that are cared for and maintained on a farm will produce a pearl. Even then, not all pearls are of a quality that allows them to be sold. [22]
  10. Cartier used a pearl to purchase the land for its New York flagship store. In relation to Cartier, there is an additional intriguing link between the French design titan and pearls. When the wife of a railroad tycoon fell head over heels for one of Cartier’s pearl necklaces, he made her an incredible proposal. He would exchange her Italian-Renaissance-inspired Fifth Avenue residence for the natural pearl necklace, valued at $1 million, extra $100. The rest is history because she concurred. The estate was turned into one of the most opulent shopping experiences in the world by Cartier. Cartier’s Fifth Avenue Mansion is currently the brand’s biggest store worldwide. [22]
  11. Julius Caesar enacted a law that prohibited everyone else from wearing pearls. Pearls were seen as a sign of wealth and status in pre-Roman Rome. Owning pearls indicated that you belonged to a particular social class. That explains why Julius Caesar, a famous Roman tyrant, enacted a law in 1BC making it illegal for anyone who was not a member of the ruling class to wear beautiful jewelry. [22]
  12. Cleopatra bet and won with pearls. A well-known myth claims that Cleopatra sought to show Mark Anthony that she could organize the most expensive banquet ever. Two of the largest pearls in the world at the time were reportedly acquired by Cleopatra, who wore them as earrings. She gave the order for strong vinegar to be brought, dropped one of the pearls into the liquid, and watched it dissolve. She kept downing what could be considered the priciest cocktail in history. The gamble was obviously successful for the Egyptian Queen. [22]
  13.  The Oldest Pearl Ever Discovered Was Discovered Around 5500 B.C. While many people might be shocked to learn about pearls’ importance throughout the Roman Empire, their historical significance dates far further back. The oldest pearl ever unearthed was uncovered by French scientists in 2012. It was discovered in a graveyard in the United Arab Emirates, where it was given the name Umm al Quwain to honor the area of the nation it was discovered in. Carbon dating was utilized by scientists to establish that the pearl was older than 7,500 years. This outlived the previous oldest pearl record holder by more than 2,500 years. [22]
  14. A pearl-necklace dictionary exists. The variety of pearl necklace styles has increased along with the popularity of pearls. People have consequently created a special terminology that is dedicated to the size of pearl necklaces. From shortest to longest, there are many distinct names for necklace lengths, including choker, princess, matinee, opera, and rope. [22]
  15. Pearl is the birthstone for the month of June. The fact that June has three designated birthstones, one of which is the pearl, makes June babies very fortunate. The mythology holds that the birthstone for June represents truth, devotion, and purity. The pearls make an excellent gift for anyone born in this month because of their symbolic value and alluring beauty. [22]
  16. Diving for pearls can be fatal. One of the highest – risk jobs ever is that of pearl diving. Prior to the development of improved safety procedures, shark attacks or drowning accounted for 50% of pearl divers’ career deaths. [23]
  17. Every pearl is different. Each pearl can be identified by its size, shape, blemishes, bumps, and other minute imperfections. Just like fingerprints and snowflakes, pearl is unique.  Thus, the pearl you possess is exclusively yours. [23]
  18. The best type of pearl is the South Sea pearl. The South Sea is where one can find the most expensive pearls. Large, very lustrous, and coming in a variety of hues from cream to silver to pink to gold, South Sea pearls are prized for their size and beauty. India, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Myanmar are among the nations that produce pearls. [23]
  19. The famous black pearl- Among all pearls, black pearls are some of the rarest and most expensive. In French Polynesia, a black pearl develops inside a black-lipped oyster. Make sure they are labeled as Tahitian pearls if you’re looking for real black pearls. If not, you might be purchasing pearls with synthetic dyes. [23]
  20. The Health Benefits of Pearl – Many Asian societies and cultures have asserted the medical benefits of this shining pearl. Pearls have a long medical history that can help with the treatment of skin, muscle, and digestive tract issues. It has been used for medicinal purposes in fine granular form and combined with different herbal powders and potions to create a treatment that improves fertility and lessens labor pains during childbirth. [24]

CONCLUSION

The future of pearl is both dazzling and hazy. The pearl offers every indication of continued value as jewelry and an ornament. Like other stones and jewelry, it frequently goes in and out of style. Environmental issues jeopardize the future of the farmed pearl. Numerous nations throughout the world cultivate pearl oysters to make cultivated pearls. The range of freshwater or saltwater settings that pearl-bearing creatures can endure has decreased due to pollution. Polluted water endangers commercial oyster beds by reducing the size of pearls produced, causing discoloration, and making them look less translucent.

The cultivation of pearls may present chances for livelihood and marine protection—every industry experiences growing pains through phases of adjustments and tribulations. The pearl business is undergoing a restructuring phase that will likely include mergers, acquisitions, and some failures. Significant modifications will take some time, and the process is highly unpleasant for many people. But the majority will survive this and thrive. Like any market, it has some fluctuations, but after 100 years of seclusion, the world has advanced and realized its value from the early 20th century to the early 21st century.

The comeback has been helped by prominent and influential women wearing pearls. Of all jewelry, pearls have the most illustrious history. Men risked their lives to hand-collect the gems, and they still do, making them more valuable. Moreover, with the help of science and technology, more magnificent pearls are being produced because of scientific intervention. The ability to tell a story of provenance and taste is evolving beyond specific color preferences.

References:

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  12. Charlie, Chum. Catch&Find. August 9, 2020.Where Can You Find Oysters with Pearls? | Catch and Fillet. Retrieved. September 15, 2022.
  13. Farr, Christine. Agronomag. Pearl farming and its impact on marine life (agronomag.com). Retrieved. September 17, 2022.
  14. Timeless Pearl. March 2018.The Pearl Farming Ecosystem: How Pearl Farming Helps the Environment – Timeless Pearl. Retrieved. September 17, 2022.
  15. Foxy Pearl Jewelry. December 7, 2021. Seven Pearl Jewelry Trends for 2022: The Pearl Revolution Continues (foxypearljewelry.com). Retrieved. September 17, 2022.
  16. Pear Lang. How Much Are Pearls Worth? The Definitive Guide to Value – PEARL-LANG®. Retrieved. September 17, 2022.
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  18. Wilson, Paula. March 1, 2015. Celebrity Net Worth. Elizabeth Taylor And The Amazing Story Of The La Peregrina Pearl | Celebrity Net Worth. Retrieved. September 17, 2022.
  19. Williams, Douglas. December 2018. This $100 Million Pearl Was Kept Under the Fisherman’s Bed – Outdoor Revival. Retrieved. September 17, 2022.
  20. Top 10 Most Expensive Pearls in the World (topteny.com). Retrieved. September 17, 2022.
  21. Palawan Princess 2nd Largest Non-Nacreous Baroque Pear (internetstones.com). Retrieved. September 18, 2022.
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