History of the Pearl

February 3, 2015 by Melissa

Pearls are one of the oldest gemstones known to man, with an iridescence and glow that people have sought after for generations. However, in ancient times, little was known about the origins of pearls, despite the fact that they have been collected for more than 4,000 years.

Ancient Beliefs

The earliest known belief regarding the origin of the pearl is that oysters rose to the surface in the morning and opened to catch dew drops which became pearls. From the 15th to 17th Century, it was believed that pearls were oyster eggs. It was not until the 18th century that it was discovered that a pearl was formed as protection for the oyster when a hard substance or parasite intruded.

Early Uses of Pearls

The ancient Egyptians used mother-of-pearl for decorative purposes, but didn’t actually use the pearls themselves. However, they were highly prized and many Egyptians have been found buried with the gems. The Ancient Chinese believed that pearls originated in the brain of a dragon and considered them the prized possessions of royalty. Ancient Greeks believed pearls represented love and often gave them at weddings while in ancient Rome, pearls were a symbol of wealth, prestige and social standing. The Emperor Caligula loved them so much he had a pearl necklace created for his horse and had them embroidered on his slippers.

Royal Courts

During the Renaissance, pearls were abundant among royalty. Many countries actually forbid anyone who was not royalty from wearing pearls as they were held in high regard. Knights often wore pearls onto the battlefield as remembrance of the maiden who cherished them. They believed that the pearls would protect them from harm.

Pearls have been treasured almost from the day they were discovered in a long ago oyster. Today, pearls are still revered as one of the most elegant and refined gemstones available. Check out Pearl Source’s wide array of popular pearl jewelry!