Pearls- “The Queen Of Gems”, are known to be one of nature’s greatest miracles. Pearls are officially said to be the world’s oldest gemstone, and they have been revered since long before history was even written. For this sole reason, their discovery is not attributed to a single person in particular. Rather it is believed that they were discovered by people who went searching for food along the seashore. But we can surely say that they have been worn as a form of adornment for a millenia, thanks to the fragments of pearl jewellery archaeologists found in the sarcophagus of a Persian princess that dates back to 420 B.C.E, which is now at display at the Louvre museum in Paris.
A pearl is naturally produced in living bivalve, shelled mollusks such as in oysters or the abalone clams. These hard, round gemstones appear inside the soft tissue of a mollusk or the clams due to the insertion or introduction of some kind of ‘irritant’. Under natural conditions this could be anything, from a grain of sand to a parasite or a microscopic intruder, whilst in the production of cultured pearls, a tissue is implanted inside, typically taken from the mantle of a donor shell.
Regardless of the irritant, the process is the same because when the irritant enters the clams or the oysters, they secrete a protein called ‘conchiolin’, to cover the same, thus producing a pearl.
The meaning of Pearls
Pearls are also known as the June birthstone and are believed to be the ultimate symbol of wisdom gained through experience. They are valued for their calming effects on the mind, pearls are also believed to represent serenity. They help in strengthening relationships and also convey a sense of safety on their wearers. Pearls are also considered to be the symbol for purity, integrity as well as loyalty.
This gem of the sea is also believed to offer protection to the wearer and attract good fortune and wealth. Pearls are often gifted as a token of affection and love to the loved ones too and also to wish them good luck in their lives.
Some interesting myths
There are various myths in different folktales that make this sea gem more intriguing than others. During the Ancient Greek days, one of the myths was really popular which stated that pearls were actually the god’s tears. It was also believed that if a bride wore pearls on her wedding day, it would stop her from crying.
Hindu folklore, though a bit different, states that the gemstones are actually the drops of dew that dropped off from the sky during the nighttime, into the moonlit ocean. The god Krishna, AKA vishnu is also associated with the accounts of weddings and pearls. It is said that Krishna pulled out the very first pearl from the sea, and presented it to his daughter, Pandaia on the day of her wedding, thus making pearls the symbol of purity, love and union.
Colors of Pearl
Pearls occur in a wide variety of colors; the most familiar of these when it comes to jewelry are white and cream (light yellowish or light brown), followed by black, grey, and silver, which are equally popular hues. The Tahitian black pearls are some of the rarest and most precious in the market. This June birthstone can also be found in many warm colors, such as yellow, orange, and pink; they are also available in cool hues such as blue, green and violet.
The actual color profile of a particular pearl is usually composed of a main color, which is called the “body color”, it is then modified by translucent overtones, like rose pink, blue, green or purple. Many pearls are known to exhibit the phenomenon known as ‘orient, which is basically a shimmer of iridescent rainbow colors found in gemstones like labradorites. These colors are visible or just below the pearl’s surface. This effect usually occurs when the nacre is particularly thick.
Natural Pearls Vs Cultured Pearls
People often get confused between these two pearl types. Many think that cultured pearls are the fake versions of the natural pearls, which is not actually the case. The major difference between them are:
#1 Natural Pearls: Natural pearls form in the bodies or the mantle tissue of certain mollusks and clams, when a microscopic irritant or an organism gets trapped inside without the human help of any kind.
#2 Cultured Pearls: The growth of cultured pearls is done through intervention and care. Today, most of the mollusks and clams used in the culturing process are raised specifically in farms for that purpose. Although some wild mollusks are also collected and used for the process.
The first cultured pearl was created by the son of a Japanese noodle maker, named Kokichi Kokichi Mikimoto, in the year 1893, by manually introducing an irritant into a mollusk to stimulate it to form a pearl. The introduction of cultured pearls in the early 1900s brought a great revolution to the pearl industry and caused the value of natural pearls to plummet as well. By the year 1935, there were more than 300 pearl farms in Japan that were producing 10 million cultured pearls an year. Mikimoto faced a lot of criticism and had to constantly defend himself against the accusation that his pearls were not “real”. The scientific evidence spoke contrary and it proved that the cultured pearls also had the same properties as the natural ones. Mikimoto’s Akoya pearls are still in use today and are used by the jewelry house that bears his name and are world renowned for their brilliant lustre and rich colors.
Healing properties and Health Benefits of Pearls
Pearls are known to possess many metaphysical healing properties like it is beneficial for lung diseases such as asthma, bronchitis and tuberculosis. It is believed to help the healing of various internal organs like that of the heart, kidneys, liver and the urinary system. Pearls are known to possess a natural kind of sedative in them and also laxative effects which neutralises poison and lowers acidity.
Pearls are also used for medicinal purposes, like in the simple treatments of eye ailments, bleeding, fever and even indigestion. In fact, the pearls are also effective in skin related issues like rosacea and acne. It is also known to strengthen the adrenal glands, the spleen and the muscle tissues. It can also lessen hypertension, headaches and exhaustion of the mind and the body.
Pearls are also associated with fertility, it is said to be beneficial for pregnant women as they ease the discomforts of the birthing process. This gemstone is both cooling and soothing and they are a great recommendation for women who experience a difficult pregnancy. It also stimulates our heart chakra which leads to a stronger immunity.
They also promote sound sleep and prevent any sort of mental illnesses, like nerve disorders, depression and anxiety and can be used to prevent and overcome any type of mental fatigue. Pearls promote the regeneration of new cells in our body and make our skin smooth, elastic and healthy.
Are there any secondary birthstones for June?
Yes, after pearl, the gemstones; alexandrite and moonstone are regarded as the secondary birthstones for the people who are born in June.
How do I clean my pearl jewelry?
After every wear, you can simply wipe your pearl jewelry with a damp cloth to remove the oils that may have settled on them with the contact of your skin. If your pearl jewelry is visibly stained, you can mix a solution of lukewarm water and mild dish soap and then dip a soft cloth in the solution and wipe the pearls. DO NOT submerge your pearl necklace or earrings or any pearl jewelry in any chemical based solution as it will weaken the silk thread or it might change the color of the gemstone as well.
How do I store my pearl jewelry?
Always store your pearls when they have thoroughly dried after cleaning. Pearls just like other gemstones are prone to scratches, so dedicate an entire space for the sole purpose of storing your pearl jewelry. Always store them in boxes that have soft fabric linings. Pearls also do remain best in a moisture environment, so wear them often to keep the gems from drying out.
How do I take care of my pearl jewelry?
The easiest method to take care of your precious pearls, is to make sure that they are the last addition to your OOTD! Any jewelry in general should be worn at last after applying any sorts of lotions and perfumes as they contain chemicals which can destroy the natural lustre of your pearls. So make sure that they are the last thing that you wear while going out and the very first to take off when you are home.