Pearls Through The Ages – The History of Pearls
Pearls have been such an important part of our fashion and culture that sometimes we forget where they come from. And whilst jewellery trends come and go, pearls have remained a constant throughout history, cementing themselves as one of the most elegant and sought after items. If you have ever wanted to learn more about the history of pearls, here’s your chance as we take a brief look at pearls through the ages.
Cultured pearls (and therefore the real ones which come from oysters) have certainly earned their name, and are coveted as one of the most precious gems. Throughout history they have been revered as a symbol of elegance and luxury, and whether worn as earrings, a necklace, bracelet or other type of jewellery item, provide a lasting, timeless piece for any woman’s collection.
The Origins of Pearls
Whilst the discovery of pearls can’t be dated back to a specific time, it is almost certain that they were discovered when looking for sources of food in the water. On opening up the oysters, the pearl was sure to have been a magical surprise for the discoverer. Throughout mythology and history, even ancient history, there have been references to pearls which cements their history as a prized item.
Pearls and Historical Figures
It is widely known that the ancient Egyptians were buried with pearls, being one of the treasured items that they chose to take with them into the afterlife. Cleopatra was famous for having supposedly swallowed a pearl that was in a glass of wine in order to win a bet with her Mark Anthony.
Different cultures and different ages have all had their unique associations with pearls, with each considering them a prized and luxurious item. They were a symbol of significant wealth for the Romans, whilst the Greeks adopted them as a symbol for love and marriage. Renaissance Europe saw pearls in high regard, worn solely by the nobility in some countries as an official law. A discovery of pearls when the Europeans ventured to America for the first time led to a surge in Europe, but had a detrimental effect on supplies in the Americas. For a time, pearls were a luxury only afforded by the rich, but of course today are much more accessible and affordable.
The Effect of Pearls on Today’s Jewellery Design
One of the most interesting anecdotes about pearls is that Jacques Cartier used two pearl necklaces in order to purchase his famous Fifth Avenue store in New York in 1916, sparking a revolution of contemporary jewellery design and the birth of the famous Cartier brand internationally. Who knew that some strings of pearls could have led to so much?
Today, pearls have well and truly earned their place as an essential item for our jewellery collections. As the perfect hint of class, they can make even the simplest of outfits, from every day work wear to a glamorous evening look, all that more fabulous.