Pearl Education - Please enter your jewelry question or comment.
Pearl Education - Please enter your jewelry question or comment.

History of Natural Pearls
Pearls are thought to have been first discovered accidentally while searching for food. While there is no historical record to pinpoint this occurrence, evidence of the use of mother-of-pearl has been found as early as 4500 BC in Mesopotamia. Many religious texts including the Talmud, the Koran, and the Bible mention the existence of pearls, referencing their value and appearance.

The earliest strung necklace of pearls to date was discovered in a sarcophagus during the excavation of a Persian palace in Susa. The pearl necklace shown below is an important exhibit found at the Persian Gallery with the Louvre Museum in Paris. This was a major archaeological find that reveals the understand and appreciation of pearls and pearl necklaces as jewelry among the ancient civilization and people of Iran.

Pottery art from that time period also depicts pearls jewelry being warn by royalty.

In 1500 BC, pearls are first recorded in India, and go on to develop a place in both Indian culture and religion, symbolizing both love and tears. To this day, many brides wear pearls on their wedding day.

Even the oldest Chinese texts give mention of strings of pearls in the third millennium BC. Early trading most likely brought pearls from India, though China would go on to become the early leaders of the cultured pearl industry, developing techniques as early as the 12 century.

For both ancient Greek and Rome, pearls were a symbol of the goddess Aphrodite, or Venus. Trade brought pearls into their culture, reaching a peak during the Roman Empire as a highly valued luxury item. Pearls continue to be seen worn by royalty into the Byzantine Empire.

In the 7th century, pearls began to be used as decoration in religious objects and art, becoming a symbol of purity for the Madonna herself. In society, pearls were seen woven into clothes and hairstyles, developing into the art of pearl embroidery during the 11th and 12th centuries.

Expansion into the Americas brought pearl discoveries in the New World along the coasts of modern day South America and Mexico. Large quantities made their way back to Europe, becoming a status symbol of power. Queen Elizabeth I is depicted often in paintings draped in pearls, a style that was copied by many European royals.

Pearls of eastern origin were still the highest valued, and began to circulate with the expansion of trade routes in the 1600s.

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