- The oldest surviving piece of pearl jewelry is a necklace that was found buried with a Persian Princess. It is estimated to be over 2000 years old.
- Historians believe pearls were worn in ancient Middle East and Asian societies 3500 years ago.
- They were highly regarded in ancient Rome and very valuable. A Roman general reportedly sold one pearl earring and financed an entire military campaign with the earnings.
- Legend has it that Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, dissolved a pearl in wine and drank it to prove her love for the Roman Marc Antony.
- The Bible refers to pearls several times.
- The ancient Greeks valued them not only for their beauty, but for their associations with love and marriage.
- The Medieval world valued them and they were worn not only by women but by knights going to battle. These knights believed that pearls could protect them from harm.
- In Renaissance Europe, several countries passed laws forbidding anyone but the nobility to wear pearls or have them in their possession.
- The ancient Inca and Aztec cultures valued them for their beauty and magical powers.
- Native American men and women of the Atlantic coast and Mississippi river region wore freshwater pearl pendants and earrings.
- The discovery of pearls in the waters off Central America brought great wealth to Europe during the years of expansion. The 'pearl rush ' was so great that practically all of the American pearl oyster population was gone by the end of the 17th century.
- Famous French jeweler Jacques Cartier traded two pearl necklaces for valuable property on New York's famous Fifth Avenue, and built his famous jewelry store there in 1916.
- Pearls remained very expensive and only the very wealthy could afford them until the early 20th century when pearl cultivation began.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Pearls - Legend and History
Pearls are one of the oldest types of gems, and continue to be popular today. Some legends and history about pearls: