A Short History Of Pearls:
No one can say with any degree of certainty who discovered the world's oldest gem. All we know for sure is that natural pearls have been around for a very long time. Proof of this comes from the high reverence that pearls received in a number of vastly different cultures spread across many thousands of years. The history of pearls transcends religion, myth, and literature for very good reasons. Unlike rubies, diamonds, and many other precious stones, when a pearl is found it's already quite marvelous and does not require cutting or excessive polishing. These gorgeous creations are indeed a gift bestowed on humans by the gods as they were so often thought of by ancient cultures. However, due to their rarity, a new method of creating these exquisite gemstones was developed in the 20th century, which now carries the name of cultured pearls. The history of cultured pearls is also extremely important to our current understanding of these precious gems.
Pearls are mentioned a number of times in the King James Bible, specifically in reference to the pearly-white gates of heaven. We also have proof that the Mayan and Aztec cultures of the Americas also found, collected and used this precious stone. The beauty and true rarity of pearls has given a multitude of writers and poets vast amounts of inspiration. In fact, fragments of the oldest piece of pearl jewelry were found in the tomb of a Persian Prince who lived more than 2000 years ago. Pearls, the oldest gems, are also the subject of myth and legend. It is said that Cleopatra, the last great Pharaoh of Egypt, dissolved a highly valued natural pearl in a glass of wine--and then, to prove her love for Marc Anthony, she drank it. The shock value of this story comes from the fact that in ancient times, pearls were incredibly rare and astronomically expensive. In fact there's even a story of a Roman General who paid for his whole military campaign with a single pearl earring.
The history of pearls can be a lot of fun to explore but regardless of all the beautiful and mysterious stories that surround the creation of these breathtaking gems the reality is far better. Pearls can be found inside of mollusks, such as oysters, clams, or muscles. They can also be found in salt or fresh water, depending on the type of mollusk. A pearls is formed when an irritating foreign object, such as a grain of sand, manages to find its way into the interior of the mollusk. The living mollusk then begins to secrete a substance that is sometimes called "nacre". Layers upon layers of this substance are laid over the foreign object, and because nacre is made from the same secretion that makes the beautiful shimmering and softly colored mother of peal interior of a shell it's easy to see why pearls are so glorious.
By covering the foreign object in layers of nacre, the mollusk has effectively covered, captured, and rendered the object incapable of causing any more harm or irritation. The slow and tedious process by which a mollusk creates a pearl out of a grain of sand makes people think of tears, This is also because pearls will often take on the shape of a pear, which closely resembles a tear. This is also a shape that is often seen in older pearl jewelry. The knowledge that this small creature, the mollusk, secretes a substance much like the secretion of tears has helped poets, lovers, and storytellers better illustrate the idea that all worthwhile endeavors always originate from difficulty, hard work, and perseverance. This makes the oldest gems, an object that can't even be considered a true precious stone, the most accurate representation of strength, beauty, and utter uniqueness.
The history of cultured pearls is as important and interesting as the history of natural pearls. The development of these stunning crafted pearls has opened the door for many people, so that they too can own their own real, elegant, and absolutely striking set of pearls. The idea that every woman should and potentially could own a piece of pearl jewelry is relatively new and is due almost entirely to cultured pearls.