Home DM News Pearls: The History of Nature’s Greatest Miracle

Often referred to as the “ queen of gems “ pearls have been adorned and treasured for centuries. One of the oldest gemstones known to mankind, natural and real pearls are referenced in texts ranging from the Quran and Bible to the ancient Epic of Gilgamesh, written almost 4,000 years ago. Their beauty and rarity have been celebrated through the ages, and coveted by kings and queens.

Presented in a glossed, flawless finish, pearls are the epitome of natural beauty.

Traced back to ancient Greece, pearls were believed to be the tears of god, purchased and worn by only the most noble of wearers. Over time, the pearl gemstone has collected an abundance of different meanings and symbolisms, with the core belief that these classic gems provide purity, wisdom and spiritual transformation.

David Morris selects only the most beautiful pearls, natural and cultured, for its collections and high jewellery creations.

Where do pearls come from?

Pearls can be found in many places across the globe including Japan, China, Australia, French Polynesia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Until the start of the 20th century, the only way of collecting pearls was through divers who would swim at depths of up to 100ft to retrieve the pearl oysters. Today, natural pearls are among the rarest of gems and their almost depleted collection means that they are found very infrequently, mainly in the seas of Bahrain and Australia.

How are pearls made?

Pearls are gemstones formed inside the shells of certain molluscs, such as oysters and mussels, through a process where an irritant, such as a parasite or piece of shell, becomes trapped in the mollusc’s soft tissue. To protect itself, the mollusc secretes layers of nacre around the irritant, eventually forming a pearl. This can occur naturally or be induced through human interference in cultured pearls.

Pearl deco akoya pearl round and micro set diamond dangle earrings from david morris

What do pearls symbolise?

Pearls are unique and are rather unlike any other gemstone on the market. Formed within living creatures, a pearl’s origin and mysterious appeal make them a favoured choice for jewellery and fashion. Throughout history, people have associated pearls with different symbolic meanings such as purity, wisdom, and love. They have also been used during meditation and healing processes to promote inner peace and balance. In many cultures, pearls are given as a gift to express love, loyalty, and affection, sometimes crafted into the form of eternity rings or engagement rings.

In terms of wealth and good luck, the rarity and natural beauty of a pearl make them a precious luxury that wealthy, successful wearers see as a sign of positivity and fortune.

June Birthstone

In modern times, pearls are now referred to as the June birthstone and may be gifted in the form of jewellery, stationary, accessories and art. A pearl’s symbol of love and commitment is also represented through the modern use of a 30th wedding anniversary.

History of the pearl gemstone

The oldest known pearl jewellery was discovered in the sarcophagus of a Persian princess who died in 520 BC. Due to natural pearls being so rare throughout history, only the richest nobles could afford them. There were also times in which only the emperor was allowed to wear these treasured gemstones, with many being buried and treasured in secret.

Tudor England was known as the Pearl Age because of the stone’s popularity with the upper class during the sixteenth century. Portraits showed royals wearing pearl jewellery and clothing. Pearls then became more accessible in the early 1900s when the first commercial culturing of saltwater pearls formed in Asia. Since the 1920s, cultured pearls have replaced natural pearls, making this classic gemstone affordable for a wider range of demographics and transforming it into a wider selection of products.

Bangle conch pearl diam rg wg 3qtr from david morris

The difference between natural pearls and cultured pearls

Natural pearls are formed without human intervention when an irritant accidentally enters a mollusc, causing it to secrete layers of nacre around the irritant. Cultured pearls on the other hand are created through human intervention by intentionally placing an irritant into a mollusk to stimulate the nacre secretion process.

Both types of pearls form through the same natural process, however, cultured pearls are more common in today’s gemstone market and can be produced in larger quantities.

What colour are pearls?

The most familiar colours of a pearl gemstone are white and cream, with black, grey, and silver also being fairly common options. The main colour, or body colour, is often modified by additional colours called overtones, which typically include pink, green, purple, or blue.

Pearl jewellery handcrafted by David Morris

Considering their long and illustrious history, the ability of pearls to feel both timeless and modern ensures that they remain one of today’s most popular gemstones. This incredibly versatile gemstone is wearable whatever the occasion, day or night, whether it’s the weekend or a wedding. Choose from incredible natural pearls, lustrous cultured pearls and – the rarest of them all – pink conch pearls.

For our elegant and contemporary pearl jewellery creations, the House of David Morris selects only lustrous, creamy-white pearls, with historic natural pearls from the warm seas of the Caribbean and Far East amongst the most beautiful.

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