Pearls have long been considered an essential part of every lady’s wardrobe for their timeless appeal. As the world’s oldest gems, they’ve been found in jewelry boxes for thousands of years. But they weren’t always the common household item they are today.
There’s a reason why pearls are often referred to as the “Queen of Gems.” Their beauty comes from their immaculate perfection in their natural, unaltered state. No other gem has captivated audiences quite like pearls, and although they aren’t as valuable as they used to be, they still hold a treasured spot in our hearts.
Ancient Status Symbol
The origins of the first pearls are unknown, but most gemologists speculate they were first discovered by indigenous fishermen. Cultures all around the world have recognized pearls as a symbol of wealth and extravagance for as long as recorded history.
Ancient civilizations crafted exquisite jewelry, adornments and decorative items from them, and some would conquer neighboring territories if they suspected their neighbors of possessing them. Their appeal transcends fashion; countless religions honor the gem in sacred texts and myths, often likening them as symbols of purity and perfection.
Before the process of harvesting cultured pearls was created, natural pearls were highly sought after for their rarity and beauty. Only the most prominent members of society were wealthy enough to don strings of the lustrous gem. Some countries imposed restrictions banning only but the most deserving from wearing pearl jewelry.
Different types of pearls have defining characteristics. (Attribution: user brownpau)
Cultured Pearls
After the European expansion into the New World, the Americas became a large distributor of freshwater pearls until overfishing and pollution lead to a depleted oyster population in the 1800s. This all but halted the demand and drove up the price until the early 1900s when Japanese entrepreneur, Kokichi Mikimoto, discovered a technique to force the production of pearls in oysters. Over the span of a few decades, Mikimoto would perfect his techniques, revolutionizing the industry and making the pearl available to the masses.
Find Your Perfect Pearl at Reiner’s Fine Jewelry in Houston, Texas
For over 70 years, Reiner’s Fine Jewelry in Houston has crafted exquisite handmade jewelry. We specialize in custom jewelry and handcrafted gemstone pieces. Stop by the shop and browse our wide assortment of fine jewelry, including our large selection of pearls.