In these days everybody can wear pearls because there is a pearl for every budget. But there were times that only royals and their family were allowed to wear pearls or owe pearls. Common people could 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. The examples I present you are maybe a bit extreme, but you can use them to impress.
Every extraordinary pearl found became automaticly the property of the Chinese Emperor
Thousands of years ago people were looking along the seashore for food and things they could use. And when they were very lucky they found oysters and one or more pearls in the oyster. They loved this pretty round white bead and used it for adornment. We know that because we have found a piece of pearl jewelry in the grave of a Persian princess (around 400 BC) and I saw 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 decided that wearing and owing pearls was only a privilege for them. All the high-quality and bigger pearls found in China were the property of the Chinese Emperor. And other kings followed this example.
What to do if you could not find oysters and pearls in your country?
The pearls were not found in Rome or even Egypt. But luckily at those days the Arabian traders imported the pearls 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 pearls were hard to come by, you might appreciate this story. A story about a showing of with pearls.
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 were found in the Persian Gulf for a long time, but in the 15th en 16th century they got competition. The royals of Spain and Portugal send their soldiers to the West to look for land and treasuries. People like Columbus came back with a lot of gold, gemstones, and pearls. The import of those goods grew and when there is more of it available the prices dropped. And in the 18th and 19th century also the rich bourgeois in Europe could afford themselves a beautiful string of pearls. They were still expensive but not the exclusive gem for the royalty anymore. Things changed again at the start of the 20th century. Japan and China worked their way up in the pearl supply chain by offering cultured pearls.
In this time you can show off with your pearls like the royals do.
- You can organize an exclusive dinner party like 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, color, and qualities. I wrote 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 and you can use this link https://www.florencejewelshop.com/lp-pearls-2018/ to get it.
Hug Florence from FlorenceJewelshop