If rubies are called King of the gems, then pearls are called Queen of the gems. The oldest necklace with natural pearls which is known, is one that a Persian princess from the 4th century B.C. has worn, and is kept in the Louvre in Paris. Perhaps pearl farms gave pearls to an extended mass, but for centuries they were privilege for the quite wealthy ones. The Romans had a special preference for these rare sea treasures. Cleopatra's famous decomposition of a pearl in wine, was more a demonstration of the Egyptian wealth, than to impress Markus Antonio. From the legend it is known, that pearls have mystic forces and curative characteristics. The Roman women slept with a pearl under the bed, to have sweet dreams, and sewed also one in their clothes. Asian cultures used pearls in the medicine against eye, heart and fever complaints. In India people believed that pearls bring internal peace in body and spirit. Also the Europeans believed that pulverized pearls healed heart-, spirit- and nerve-diseases. Pearls are particularly preferred as jewels to a wedding. This preference leads back to the Hindu civilization. From the legend it is known, that Krishna pulled from the sea a pearl for his daughter Pandaia, to carry it on her wedding.
An organic gem, pearls are formed inside mollusks such as oysters and mussels. They are formed when an irritant such as a tiny stone or bit of sand gets inside the mollusk's shell. A lustrous substance, called nacre, is secreted around the object to protect the soft internal surface of the mollusk. As layer upon layer of nacre coats the irritant, a pearl is formed. Light that is reflected from these overlapping layers produces a characteristic iridescent luster. This process of building a solid pearl can take up to seven or eight years. Because the nacre is organic, pearls are very sensitive to extreme heat, acids, dryness, and humidity. Care should be taken when storing them. The most valuable pearls are perfectly symmetrical, relatively large and naturally produced. The principal oyster beds lay in the Persian Gulf, along the coasts of India and Sri Lanka, and in the Red Sea. Scotland, Ireland, France, Austria, Germany, and U.S. have pearls that come mainly from freshwater rivers and ponds, whereas Japanese and Chinese pearls are found near the coast in salt water or in freshwater. There are many different types of pearls depending on geographic location and aesthetic characteristics. At Cumberland Diamond Exchange we have a wide selection. We carry Fresh Water - Cultured, Salt Water - Cultured, South Sea, and Tahitian pearls. Pearls will also vary in colors. The most common color is white but there are those with a hint of color, often pink, to brown or black. Each color depends on the type and location of the pearl. Besides color there are a few factors that make up a pearls value. Find out more about pearl value factors.