…And why every woman should have pearls in her jewellery wardrobe
The pearl is the oldest known gemstone and has an amazing history peppered with fascinating stories and iconic women.
Before the 1920’s the only pearls you could buy were naturally occurring ones (strike rate of around 1 pearl per 50 oyster shells). You can see how tricky it would be to find just one pearl, let alone a string of pearls all the same size with a similar colour, lustre and skin tone. Add to that the value of symmetry in the pearl and you begin to understand why Elizabeth the first was draped in rows of pearls. They were the ultimate sign of wealth and status.
By the 1920’s Mikimoto was successfully selling cultured pearls and after a long battle where it was proven that the cultured pearl was indistinguishable from a natural pearl he was given a license to import to the West (in 1924 a French court of justice ruled that ‘cultured pearls do not differ from natural pearls at all’. Halleluiah and thank you kindly. The beautiful pearl could be available to us all.
Following on from this, freshwater pearls were cultured, leading to an even great expansion of access to this gorgeous gemstone. We particularly love the freshwater pearls (grown in freshwater, in large mussels, sometimes 20 to a shell) for their varied shapes, styles and accessibility.
Coco Chanel was the first to release pearls from their rather exclusive history, encouraging women to wear long strings as fashion items rather than heirlooms. Today Alessandro Michele from Gucci is big into pearls and uses them boldly and adventurously.
We love the fact that pearls are so natural – grown by nature and with very little human intervention. They are not mined or cut and manhandled. Their association with strong independent women is legendary. Cleopatra famously claimed to be able to host the world’s most expensive dinner. Marc Anthony must have been somewhat surprised when she took off a pearl earring, dissolving it in a glass of wine and drinking it. Jackie Onassis, Marilyn Monroe, Michelle Obama, Meghan Markle and The Queen – they all have very individual looks and they all wear pearls beautifully.
And why are they so great to wear? Pearls are wonderfully adaptable and take on the spirit of the person who wears them. Some of this is down to the fact that they are very porous so like to be worn to absorb your skins oils and moisture. Some of it is down to the fact that each one is as unique as a fingerprint because they don’t come off a production line. We love the fact that even wearing the same design, no two people will look the same. You can change your look by choosing a pearl hoop, or a pearl ear jacket, or a pearl stud. No other gemstone offers this variety of styles.
Find your ultimate pearl edit with us and please do call us with any questions. We love finding the right piece for you.