Pearls are a magnificent gemstone of the organic variety formed inside various oyster and some other mollusc species. The “Queen of Jewels” possesses a timeless quality that has continued to captivate people from the time it was first discovered until today.
Made up of a natural liquid calcium carbonate secretion called ‘nacre’, a pearl begins with a grain of sand, inserted bead called a ‘nucleolus, parasite or any other irritant that enters the oyster. The oyster then coats the irritant in nacre that hardens to form the durable but silky smooth gem we call pearl. The pearl continues to grow as the oyster coats it in more and more nacre until it is eventually discarded into the ocean or found by a lucky pearl diver. While pearls can be found from wild oysters, most pearls these days have been farmed.
The timeless soft colours and simplicity of pearls have made them a jewellery lovers staple and fashion icons like Jackie Kennedy, Coco Chanel and Maharani Gayatri Devi were rarely seen without their wardrobe staple.
Elizabeth Taylor owned one of the most famous pearls in history ‘L’a Peregrina’.
La Peregrina was found in the mid 16th century by a slave who was given his freedom upon giving up the pearl. La Peregrina then passed through the hands of royalty and people of title before being purchased by Richard Burton as a gift to Elizabeth. This pearl somes with colourful stories of luck, love and power and was last sold from her estate for approximately AUD$15,000,000.
While the beauty of the pearls is found in their soft, gentle colours and simplicity there is little else simple about pearls. Found in many parts of the world, pearls come in a large range of shapes, colours, sizes and qualities depending on what type of mollusc they come from and what water quality their creators live in.
With so many variations of pearls, these silky lustrous beauties can come in a wide range of prices. So wide in fact that there is a pearl (or strand of pearls) to suit every budget.
On the 5th of August director of Gray Reid Gallery, Alister Reid, will be giving an intimate talk on pearls as a follow up from his July talk on ‘Organic Gems’ (places limited). In this talk Alister will reveal the secrets of the pearl, stories of significant pearls, buying tips and share his knowledge of pearls which he has acquired in his over 45 years in the fine jewellery industry. A jewellery event not to be missed!