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History of Pearls


No one can say for sure when the first pearls were discovered. In nature pearls occur in about one of every 10,000 oysters.

A tiny bead of sand, parasite, or some other foreign object works its way into the oyster and, in most cases, is simply expelled by the living organism.

But, in the rarest of cases, the oyster is unable to expel the foreign particle. This has been related to a person getting a granule lodged in his eye or deep under his tongue. The irritation is unbearable. But the oyster secrets a nacreous layer over the irritant, in effect protecting itself from the foreign particle. In time these layers are spun over and over until a pearl is made.

Early man ate oysters and used its shell to make tools, weapons, and adornments (jewelry). Many stories from ancient history bear reference to pearls as precious gems worn by kings and queens. They have been sought after by women of fashion and powerful men hoping to gain favor by giving their ladies this rarest of exotic gifts. Even the bible makes reference to pearls in the New Testament as being "so precious that a man would give all his life possessions for just one pearl".

Today pearls are much more abundant because man developed a scientific technique whereby oysters are artificially induced to make pearls. Man introduces the irritant and the oyster does the rest. However, this process is successful in only about 50% of the implanted oysters. Of the remaining oysters, nearly half will produce pearls unfit for jewelry. Only 10 to 15% will be of gem quality. These pearls are called "cultured pearls".

The early producers of cultured pearls were the Japanese, quickly followed by other oriental countries such as China. Both fresh and salt-water oysters of various species are cultivated to make pearls in the orient today. More recently credit goes to the Tahitians for applying this pearl-producing technique in the South Pacific. Much of Polynesia today produces pearls from over 70 species of oysters. However, the Black-Lipped Oyster that produces the true and authentic black pearl is more difficult to raise than many species. The water must be perfectly clear and devoid of pollution and remain almost constant around 75-degree farenheight. These conditions exist in the waters of Tahiti and the Cook Islands. The Cook Islands are the latest Polynesian country to commercially promote the authentic black pearl.

For more information on Pearls, you may visit:
Universal Pearls      or Mikura Pearls

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