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Pearl History

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Pearl History

Pearls have long been treasured and highly valued in many cultures throughout history. As far back as 2300 BC, Chinese records indicate that pearls were the prized possessions of (and gifts to) royalty. In India, ancient Hindu texts repeatedly refer to pearls, stating in one place that the god Krishna discovered the first pearl. In ancient Egypt, mother-of-pearl was used for decorative purposes as far back as 4000 BC, although the use of actual pearls did not come until much later - perhaps the 5th century BC.
In ancient Rome and medieval France, only the aristocracy were allowed to wear pearls. In Elizabethan England, only royalty could wear them. Pearls became associated with wealth, status, and power, and ordinary people began to desire them as symbols of these things. Throughout history, millions of people have yearned to wear pearls.
The ancient Egyptians prized pearls so much they were buried with them. Reportedly, Cleopatra dissolved a single pearl in a glass of wine and drank it, simply to win a wager with Marc Anthony that she could consume the wealth of an entire country in just one meal. Throughout the world history, different cultures have assigned various other meanings to pearls.
A century ago, pearls were harvested in the wild from ocean floors and river bottoms. It was extremely difficult to find a naturally formed round pearls.
Today, almost all pearls used for jewelry are cultured pearls. Large quantity of round pearls are produced by using pearl culturing technique first developed by Tatsuhei Mise and Tokichi Nishikawa in Japan.
As products of living animals, pearls are unique among gems. In size, shape and even color, pearls exist in a stunning diversity of forms—far more than just small, round and white. Depending on the fashions of the era, the most sought-after pearls may be perfectly spherical, pear-shaped or irregular. A single large pearl may provide special elegance, or a cluster of seed pearls may light up a garment or object of art. With their long and lustrous history, pearls are more popular than ever.
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