The pearl – symbol of beauty, femininity and luxury
The birth of the pearl, after an ancient Chinese fairy tale: The very first raindrop fell from the clouds into the endless blue ocean. The drop was tiny and was immediately swallowed by the waves, so he shouted: “I am inconspicuous and small in this vast ocean!” The ocean replied: “You small drop of water, your modesty honours you, you shall be rewarded. I will turn you into a drop of pure light – you will become a wonderful and pure jewel, the queen among all, and you will have power over the women.” Thus, the pearl was born.
For humans, it has always been inexplicable how a shell can grow a shiny pearl. Many legends and stories emerged – pearls were often associated with tears. In many cultures it was a symbol of wealth, wisdom, dignity and love; she exerted a magical and mysterious fascination. The pearl was precious because it was so rare. There was no need to tool it – it was already beautiful and perfect when one found it. It is probably one of the oldest jewels of humanity. Ancient scriptures mentioned pearl fisher on the coast of Sri Lanka (the former Ceylon) 2500 years ago. Other sites were the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. Thus, pearls from these three areas are also called Orient pearls.
Today, jewellery production almost exclusively uses cultured pearls. In 1916, the Japanese Mikimoto patented his successful method of breeding round beads. At first sceptical, the cultured pearls soon began their triumph around the world. The range of cultured pearls is enormous – there are a variety of shapes, colours and sizes. The cultured pearl is as much a natural product as the natural pearl; it emerges and grows inside the pearl shell, has the same characteristics, the same specific weight. The only difference is that in the cultured pearl, the human intervenes to create conditions in the shell that promote the production of a pearl.
Real pearls = uncultured pearls, often called orient pearls
Akoya pearls = cultured pearls grown in the sea
Baroque pearls = irregular shaped pearls
Biwa pearls = Japanese freshwater pearls from Lake Biwa
Button beads = these beads are sawn from the shell because they grow on the inside of the seashell – their shape is thus arched above, oval or round and flat below (= cabochon shaped)
Mabé pearls = semi-pearls in rather atypical form like hemispheres, hearts, squares etc.
Keshi pearls = these grow additionally in cultured pearls, without the help of humans
South Sea pearls = also known as the queen of cultured pearls – they are recognized by their majestic size, they have a thick mother-of-pearl layer and retain their beauty over several generations
Tahitian pearls = are south sea pearls of darker colours, they usually have beautiful iridescent shades
Freshwater pearls = these pearls are most similar to natural pearls in appearance, structure and composition. They are made entirely of mother-of-pearl, they have usually no implanted core, one differentiates between round, baroque, symmetrical or button shaped beads
Only put on your pearls once you have finished hairstyle and make-up. Cosmetic products such as hairspray, moisturisers, perfume, etc. damage the pearl substance. Pearls should never come in contact with acids or alkalis, so be careful with detergents or salad dressings. After wearing, do remove traces of cosmetics and perspiration with a soft cloth. Store your pearl jewellery in a cloth bag – it should not come in contact with gold jewellery because of the risk of scratching. You can wear your pearls regularly, but not during a hairdresser’s visit, while swimming, bathing or sleeping. Your pearls should be regularly checked and cleaned in the shop. If necessary, restring the pearl necklace. Taking these tips into consideration, you will have everlasting joy with your pearl jewellery, its beauty and magic.