People have admired pearls for thousands of years - the life of precious pearls

Pearls are noble, noble and symbolize loyalty. Egyptian women wore pearls on their necks as early as 1500 BC and for the Romans pearls were a symbol of wealth, wisdom and good luck. A pearl can retain its beauty for an impressive 100 to 150 years.

Mankind has known pearls for more than 6,000 years. And that this is true and not a myth is unquestionably confirmed by the Chinese, who also attributed healing powers to pearls. The Indians, who used pearls as a talisman, and the Mongolian rulers, who believed that drinking a decoction of pearls would enhance their virility. Legends about pearls are described here.

Guardians of the pearls

Pearls are the fruit, we can also say the product, of certain species of marine and freshwater bivalves, and rarely snails. Most bivalves spend most of their lives buried in the bottom or attached to rocks, using filaments. Did you know that a characteristic feature of bivalves is that they have no head at all?

However, all bivalves feed on tiny particles of living matter, which they filter out of the water using their gills. And that's why most bivalves are sensitive to water quality. If the water is too muddy, bivalves are at risk. Conversely, a pearl will only form if a grain of sand or a pebble, for example, gets between the shell wall and the mantle. In order to prevent irritation, the mollusc gradually coats the grain of sand with layers of pearl, thus actually forming a pearl.

The mollusc in which the pearl is "born" is called a pearlfish. Each pearl acquires its inimitable iridescent colour and lustre by alternating between the encasing of the mother-of-pearl and conchiolin layers. Pearls can be found in many types of shells. Among the most precious pearls are those from the Pteria genus of shells, and among the largest pearlfish are the sea pearlfish, or Pinctada maxima. Their shell weighs up to 5.5 kg. Their occurrence is recorded off the west and north coasts of Australia.

Rarity of natural pearls and their occurrence

A pearl often acquires its colour according to the type of shell in which the pearl was formed. The shape of a natural pearl is based on the form or shape of the grain of sand or pebble and the location of the shell. The size of the pearl depends on the type of shell as well as the temperature and, of course, time. Natural or uncultured pearls are very rare and expensive as there is no human factor behind their creation. However, before a natural pearl can be found, many pearl beds must be opened. Careful opening, however, will not harm the pearl.

Pearl pearls are usually caught in the warm waters of tropical seas, for example on the coasts of Sri Lanka and southern India, where pinkish-black and yellow pearls are mainly found at depths of 6-15 m. The Persian Gulf, on the other hand, is known for its pink and creamy white pearls. The largest quantities of pearls on the market today are produced by farms in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, from China, Vietnam, Japan to Australia, Polynesia and Tahiti.

The captivating elegance of cultured pearls

Cultured pearls are created under the same conditions as natural pearls, but they are man-made. Cultured pearls are bred on pearl farms, for example by inserting tiny beads into the shells of bivalves, which are then encased in the same way in layers of pearl.

Cultured pearls are divided into seemingly similar groups. The better known, but more expensive cultured pearls are sea pearls. The second, and probably the most common group of genuine pearls, are freshwater pearls or river pearls. Their authenticity is proven by the same method of farming as the farming of sea pearls in the pearl farm. They do not lose their beauty. They are silky and shiny and have a stunning porcelain appearance.

A look back into history

It is not only for their nobility that pearls have made their mark in the history of some royal and temple treasures. An unusually large pearl the size of a pigeon's egg was owned by King Philip II of Spain. A pearl with a diameter of 5 cm is also a treasure of the British Kingdom. And perhaps the largest pearl is said to be in the possession of a bank in San Francisco.

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