The Journey of a Pearl
Pearls for centuries have been known as the symbol of Love, Happiness and good Fortune.
They create create a beautiful and useful piece of jewellery, transforming the most simplest of outfits, with their natural lustre and elegance.
Mythology tells of the Hindu God Vishnu searching the oceans for the most perfect pearl to give to his daughter for her wedding day.
And history tells us of the Russian Czars and Spanish Royalty passion for pearls.
In the 17th Century, an African slave found the most beautiful pearl ever seen. He gave it to king Philip IV of Spain, who rewarded the slave with his freedom.
The pearl, know as "The Pelegrina", was so beautiful and of enormous size.
A much prized pearl and worth much money the King of Spain sold the pearl to the house of Yospov, part of the Bolshavik Russians. During the Russian revolution in 1917 it was smuggled out of the country by the family for safe keeping to be later sold for much needed funds.
"The Pelegrina", was such a prized pearl that the actor Richard Burton, know for his generous presents to his wife, bought it for Elizabeth Taylor as a Valentines present, for the small sum of $37,000.
Elizabeth treasured the pearl and wore it on many many occasions. After her death it was sold to an un-named buyer for $117 million!
Other famous names associated with pearls and their love of the beuatiful gem are Princess of Monaco, The Queen and Queen Mother, Audrey Hepburn, Angeline Jolie, Michael Jackson and todays much admired Duchess of Cambridge.
Pearls, are the natural product of an oyster.
In the wild, oysters live in colonies called "Beds". They have highly efficient body systems and in safe conditions they can live to 30 years or more. They have a headless body with 3 hearts and 2 kidneys. The oysters collect nutrients from the sea through their gills and these nutrients contribute to the colour and quality of a pearl They are all born male and half will transform to females to lay eggs reverting to males after laying. An adult oyster can produce up to 70 million eggs a season, but many perish due to the dangers of the oceans, such as storms, pollution and predators.
Sometimes only 15 could survive to develop into baby "Veligers", as they are known. The veligers, grow a foot, which they clamp down onto the sea bed or rocks where they secrete calcium carbonate to create their shell and home. The adult oyster prefers a clean home with no imposters and when a grain from the sea bed enters, they secrete a "nacre" over the grit to keep their homes clean and tidy. This is the beginning of a pearl.
It can take up to 2 years, often 4, before a small pearl is fully developed and up to 20 years for a 10 to 12mm pearl.