The pearl is one of our greatest miracles. Known as the queen of the gemstone, these beauties have a lot of history behind them. Read about the history world’s oldest prize commodity below.
The World’s Oldest Gemstone
The pearl is officially the worlds oldest gemstone. It’s been around since before written history claims. Pearls are a precious commodity that is believed to have been discovered by people while searching for food alone a shoreline. Though the discovery of pearls cannot be traced back to a specific person, we are grateful to those who found them.
The history of pearls as gifts can be traced back to as early as 2300 B.C. Back then they were gifts that were presented to Chinese royalty and they were considered to be the ultimate gem. And in ancient Rome pearls were only allowed to be worn by those who were in the ruling class. Those who held the ultimate power.
Upon discovering an abundance of natural oyster beds in the Persian Gulf, pearls also carried out a great importance in Arabic cultures. But before the advent of these cultured pearls, the Persian Gulf was at the center of the pearl trade. This means it was a source of wealth in the region.
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The History Behind Them
There is so much we can say about the pearl, wherever do we start? In ancient China, the pearl was said to be a symbol of purity while in the dark ages, knights wore pearls on the battlefield to protect them during battle. Legend also has it that Cleopatra crushed a pearl into a glass of wine to prove to Marc Antony that she could give the most expensive dinner in history.
Since Roman times pearls have been an important aspect to the trade commodity. Back in the late 15th and early 16th century we referred to these trade as the age of pearls. During the pearl age in western Europe ladies of royalty presented themselves with elaborate pearl necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and brooches which escalated the demand for pearls.
Unlike other gemstones that are mined from the earth’s surface, pearls are harvested from a living organism. Pearls are formed when an irritant (like a piece of a shell or a parasite) becomes lodged in an oyster’s soft inner body which causes it to secrete a crystalline substance called nacre. This substance builds up around the irritant in layers until it forms what we call the pearl.
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Pearls As We Know Them Today
In today’s market, natural pearls are among the rarest gems. There is a depleted supply of all natural pearls as most of the pearls you’ll find in the stores are artificial. Natural pearls are found in the seas off Bahrain and Australia. The scarcity of these natural gems is often reflected in the prices they present at auctions. The higher the price, the rarer the gem.
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