One of the oldest known gemstones, pearls are renowned for their beauty the world over.
They are striking, universally associated with royalty, and are the only stone that is used in jewelry that is harvested from animals. In this case, the oyster! And if you are looking to buy yourself a pearl bracelet, or your loved one a pair of pearl earrings, you may be surprised at how much you don’t know about this infamous shimmery stone.
So, here are five facts about pearls that you may (or may not) know:
1. They Are The Oldest Gemstone
As mentioned before, pearls are officially known as the world’s oldest gemstone.
The oldest pearls have been dated back to 420 BC and were discovered in the sarcophagus of a Persian princess. This piece of jewelry can be viewed by visiting the Louvre in Paris. There was also a rule passed by Julius Caesar in the 1st century prohibiting the wearing of pearls by anyone who was not in the ruling class.
Luckily, that law is no longer followed, and you can find beautiful pearl necklaces and earrings for sale on websites like Chapter 79.
2. They Are Regal
OK, so this doesn’t really come as a surprise considering that a set of pearl pendants were found in the resting place of a Persian princess.
But if you look throughout the history of monarchy, pearls are seen across all nations, ranging from China to Spain, to England, and are often also worn by higher-up members of society in portraits. The most well-known case of a monarch who loved pearls was the infamous Gloriana, Elizabeth I of England who had pearls sewn into almost every item of clothing she owned. It wasn’t only the Tudors in England who liked pearls; Mary Queen of Scots, a Stuart, and Elizabeth I’s cousin owned a necklace containing more than 600 pearls!
More recently, Elizabeth II is renowned for her pearl necklaces, so they remain popular amongst monarchs even today.
3. They Can Take Years To Form
Pearls form when a mollusk shell becomes infiltrated by a foreign object, such as a grain of sand.
The mollusck’ immune system forms a bubble of nacre around the object and, over time, adds more layers to it. Pearls are actually hardened bubbles of nacre. Freshwater pearls form quickly, but saltwater pearls can take up to ten years to form and the density of the nacre will impact the value of the pearl.
4. Prices Vary Considerably
As mentioned earlier, the cost of pearls varies based on the density of the nacre and where they were found. Freshwater pearls are more common, so are cheaper. But, if you happen to set your heart on a saltwater pearl, then this is likely to be pricier, and will also vary based on the craftsmanship and age of the pearl.
5. Each Pearl is Unique
Much like fingerprints and snowflakes, every pearl is unique.
As pearls are extracted from an animal, they vary based on the mollusks’ health, weight, and even age! Some differences may be immediately visible when you look at different pearls, whereas others can only be determined via laboratory testing.
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