They are adored for their classic, natural charm. To celebrate these much-loved gems, we’ve collected some pearls of wisdom about pearls.
Unlike gemstones produced deep inside the Earth, pearls are created by living creatures called molluscs. Molluscs commonly have a soft, unsegmented body and a hard exterior shell. Pearls are made by marine oysters and freshwater mussels as a natural defence against an irritant, such as a parasite entering their shell or damage to their fragile body.
While we see pearl jewellery everywhere, naturally occurring pearls are rare. Pearls are found in just one in every 10,000 molluscs. The cultured pearl industry, which has flourished since the early 20th century, has developed techniques to improve these odds. In fact, more pearls are produced now than at any time in human history.
The most expensive pearl in the world was found by a Filipino fisherman, who discovered the 26-inch long, five-stone gemstone in a clam in the seas of the Palawan Island. The gigantic pearl is now valued at $100 Million.
The oldest known natural pearl in the world was discovered in a gravesite in the United Arab Emirates in 2012. It was found in a Neolithic Marawah excavation site in Umm al Quwain. Scientists used carbon dating to work out its age and placed it as being 7,500 years old. The pearl measures just a third of a centimetre wide
Pearls that grow in ponds, lakes and rivers are the most affordable kind of pearl. The Japanese Akoya pearl, shown here on a three-row necklace from Mr Harold and Son is the most well-established variety. It has a unique shine and a distinctly spherical shape. Tahitian pearls (such as these earrings from Winterson), tend to be found in French Polynesia and are often referred to as black pearls. They come in stunning shades of grey, purple, blue and green. The South Sea Pearl is the largest variety.
In Victorian and Georgian times, pearls were thought to symbolise tears. The gemstones were often worn by widows and were used in mourning jewellery.
Pearls can be as tiny as peppercorn or as big as a human fist. The world’s largest pearl was found in 1934 and is called the Pearl of LaoTzu. It’s about the size of a basketball.
Pearls come in various shapes, including round, semi-round, button, drop, pear, oval, baroque and circled.
Unlike most gems, pearls do not need polishing, cutting or any sort of modifications before they are ready to use in jewellery. They’re just naturally perfect.
Pearl is the traditional 30th wedding anniversary gift. This is believed to be because the pearl is often associated with purity, honesty and wisdom. Whatever the reason, you definitely deserve some of these beautiful natural gems if you’ve been married for three decades. Be inspired by this freshwater pearl and diamond bracelet from Yoko London.
At TH March, we’ve been providing jewellery insurance for 135 years. Our specialist jewellery and watch insurance means you can treasure and protect your precious pearls.