Though it might be tempting to pass off an inheritance like Grandma’s heirloom pearls to your second cousin twice removed, the truth is, if they are real pearls, it would be wise to keep them.
Real pearls are among some of the most coveted gems in the world. Elegant, serene, and beautiful, some people view pearls as a small reflection of the moon because of its innate luster and its underwater mystique. In this article, we are going to uncover a number of different facts about these beautiful gems and also cover information on pearl symbolism.
How Are Pearls Formed?
Pearls occur organically. These beautiful gems are created within different species of mollusks. This is quite different when compared to other gemstones that form as minerals beneath the surface of the earth. It is this distinction that makes pearls “gems” but not “stones.” Therefore, the word gemstone doesn’t apply as a descriptor. Instead, pearls are simply called gems.
There is a myth that surrounds pearls related to how they are formed. It’s said that pearls are a result of sand entering a species of mollusk such as a clam, an oyster, or a mussel. However, the truth is that pearls are produced when a foreign organism, or parasite, enters the shell of a mollusk and disrupts its natural state. When this happens, the mollusk secretes a fluid to survive. This fluid is similar in composition to the fluid that creates the actual shell of the mollusk. Several layers of this fluid are deposited over time, which is what creates the lustrous gem known as a pearl.
Today, this process is being hacked and irritants are being artificially inserted into the shells of mollusks to produce even more pearls. However, the mollusk organism needs to reach maturity before the foreign irritant can be implanted.
This makes for a long, less than ideal process. Despite that, the fruits of this labor can turn out to be extraordinary. However, even if everything goes smoothly, only about 5% of the mollusks can produce premium quality pearls. Apparently mother nature can only be hacked to a certain extent!
How Do You Tell a Pearl is Real?
A fun test to differentiate a genuine pearl from an artificial one is to scratch it very slightly with your teeth. An original pearl will lose a bit of the deposit formed on it and the surface will feel chalky.
While in an artificial pearl the surface will still be as smooth as glass. The paint applied to the artificial pearls gives them a smooth, mirror-like surface.
What Do Pearls Look Like?
The round, white, shiny pearl is pretty much assumed to be the worldwide standard for what a “pearl” looks like. However, the truth is there are pearls of different types and shapes, found in different parts of the world.
The Akoya Pearls: These are found abundantly off the coast of Japan and are the classic white, shiny version of pearls.
Freshwater Pearls: The freshwater pearl is low in lustre when compared to the Akoya pearls, however it is the trendiest in terms of fashion because of their baroque European designs.
Tahitian Pearls: These are the most exotic natural pearls that you can find. Their dark color is completely natural, and they can only be found in areas surrounding French Polynesia. A black pearl is extremely rare and is highly sought-after in pearl jewelry.
South Sea Pearls: South Sea Pearls can be found in the seas surrounding Indonesia, the Philippines, and Australia. They can be massive in size due to the size of the oyster. Needless to say, this type of natural pearl is the most expensive of them all.
Fact and Fiction: What Do Pearls Symbolize?
The oldest mention of pearls dates back all the way to 2206 BCE. This shouldn’t be surprising, as many eastern philosophies value pearls and equate them to spiritual wisdom and awareness.
Naturally occurring pearls can take several years to fully develop, as layers upon layers of coating continue to stack up. The lifespan of some mollusk species can extend up to forty years and they are the producers of some of the most expensive pearls in the world.
A single naturally-occurring pearl found in such a species after four decades can easily cost upwards of a million dollars!
The Egyptian Queen Cleopatra is said to have taken one such expensive pearl from her studded pearl earrings, and dissolved it in her glass of wine. She then drank the glass of wine in front of Mark Antony to symbolize the fact that she could consume such riches.
The time it took to form the pearl was basically the equivalent of an entire generation, and she even offered the glass as a toast to him. Talk about being extravagant! It’s also said that all the Egyptian royalty were buried with several pearl gems after they died. Sometimes, the truth really is stranger than fiction!
According to Ancient Chinese lore, pearls were formed inside the head of a dragon and one had to slay them to gain rightful ownership of the pearl.
The Japanese believed that pearls were formed when nymphs, mermaids, and other mythical creatures cried, and their tears were converted into pearls.
The Persians believed that rainbows were responsible for the creation of pearls and that thunder and lightning gave them their imperfections.
The Hindus believe that pearls can reduce your karma and make your relationships strong.
Meanwhile, the Quran says that Paradise is full of priceless pearls, while the Greeks promoted pearls as a symbol of honesty and integrity.
Another interesting pearl symbolism tidbit that some believe is that when God banished Adam & Eve from the Garden of Eden, they wept, and their tears turned into pearls. It is also believed that the tears of Eve turned out to be white pearls, while Adam’s tears turned into black pearls.
Other Fun Trivia About Pearls
Can you say poetry in nature? Pearl symbolism spans centuries and cultures. Full of beauty and a lustrous sheen, pearl earrings, necklaces or bracelets make an excellent addition to every jewelry collection. At Diamond Nexus we have the perfect pearl jewelry pieces to add a statement to your look.
*Here at Diamond Nexus, we strive to provide valuable information while being clear and honest about our products. The Nexus Diamond™ alternative is a patented lab created diamond simulate that, among all simulants, most closely imitates the look, weight and wear of a diamond, with two exceptions - it is absolutely perfect in every way, and it costs significantly less. Price points and environmental facts expressed in this blog were taken from popular online retailers and may vary. Learn more about the environmental impact of mining by visiting our blog.