These days everybody can wear pearls because there is a pearl for every budget. But there are times that only royals and their families are allowed to wear pearls or owe pearls. Common people can only look at them and dream about pearls. From the higher society people, we learn how to show off with your pearls, like royals do or did. Now it is much easier to impress with your pearls.
Every extraordinary pearl found became automatically the property of the Chinese Emperor
Thousands of years ago people looked along the seashore for food and things they could use. And when they are very lucky they found oysters and one or more pearls in the oyster. They love this pretty round white bead and use it for adornment. We know that because we found a piece of pearl jewelry in the grave of a Persian princess (around 400 BC) and I have seen wall paintings in a grave of the Tang Dynasty (Xián/China, around 700 AD) representing pretty ladies with pearl necklaces and hair adornments.
The pearls were so rare and therefore so expensive that the kings and queens decide that wearing and owing them was only a privilege for them. All the high-quality and bigger ones found in China were the property of the Chinese Emperor. And other kings follow this example.
What to do if you could not find oysters and pearls in your country?
Pearls are not found in Rome or even Egypt. But luckily at those days the Arabian traders imported them from the Persian Gulf and brought them with their camels through the desert to the wealthy nations and royalty. The Persian Gulf was the center of the pearl trade at that time. The pearl traders did not wait until the oysters with the pearls came to the shore, but they gathered the oysters in the sea.
The most expensive dinner in the world
Now you know that pearls were the exclusive treasure of the royals and that they were hard to come by, you might appreciate this story. A story about a showing off with these white gems.
Around 60 BC an Egyptian Pharao Cleopatra was in love with a Roman general Marcus Antony. She was rich and powerful and he represented the Roman power. Cleopatra wanted to impress him and she made a bet with him that she would offer him the most expensive dinner in history.
The most exquisite dishes were served but these couldn’t be considered as the most expensive in the world. Then a beautiful maiden presented a small silver plate with a huge pure white high-quality pearl with a gorgeous luster to Cleopatra. That pearl costed a fortune. Cleopatra crushed the pearl in her wine and drank it. Marcus Anthony was impressed because in Rome the pearl was regarded as a status symbol and Julius Ceasar (Roman Emperor and general) made a law that said that only the ruling class was allowed to wear pearls.
Unnecessary to point out that Cleopatra won the bet. It is not known what Marcus Antony had to give her, because she won.
The supply of pearls was growing
The pearls are found in the Persian Gulf for a long time, but in the 15th en 16th century they get competition. The royals of Spain and Portugal send their soldiers to the West to look for land and treasuries. People like Columbus come back with a lot of gold, gemstones, and pearls. The import of those goods grows and when there is more of it available the prices dropped. And in the 18th and 19th centuries also the rich bourgeois in Europe can afford themselves a beautiful string They are still expensive but not the exclusive gem for royalty anymore. Things change again at the start of the 20th century. Japan and China work their way up in the pearl supply chain by offering cultured pearls.
In this time you can show off with your pearls as the royals do.
- You can organize an exclusive dinner party as Cleopatra did, crush a pearl in your wine and impress or
- choosing high-quality natural pearls for your piece of jewelry and
- Keep your dress simple so that the pearls look more beautiful on you.
- Combine pearls with precious gemstones for a ‘rich’ look and feel
- Or follow the trend of having a pearl eye make up.
The pearl had a lot to offer and she comes in so many shapes, colors, and qualities.
I have an ebook about pearls just for you to find out what pearl you find most attractive and what choices you can make when you want some pearls. The ebook is free. Just let me know where to send the ebook too.