Fresh water oysters grow about 20 pearls per oyster-this is an example of how long it takes to grow pearls of this size-5 years!

Fresh water oysters grow about 20 pearls per oyster-this is an example of how long it takes to grow pearls of this size-5 years!

 

dictionary-perl

I bow to the first woman who said after a final glance in the mirror before a party-“You know what this ensemble needs?  It needs:a hard, lustrous spherical mass, typically white or bluish-gray, formed within the shell of a pearl oyster or other bivalve mollusk and highly prized as a gem.

Apparently pearls have long been desired, not just for their beauty, but for their symbolism.  The menfolk got in on the action, too-knights who fought so valiantly during the Dark Ages, did so with the magical power of the pearl onboard-quite an image-knights in shining armor with a pretty little pearl choker!!

Hundreds of years ago, the only way to get a pearl was from the oyster shells on the ocean floor.  Pearl diving sounds like a thankless job-a natural pearl is found in only one of every 10,000 mollusks.  Precious, indeed!  Maybe the rarity played into the symbolism of purity and innocence-The Bible weighs in with this thought on pearls:  Matthew 13:45 – Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls.  I kind of take that to mean “it’s hard, but it is worth it.”  Then some entrepreneur-type decided to build oyster farms for the sole purpose of growing pearls in them.  Still considered “real” these cultured pearls became a cost-effective way for the masses to enjoy the beauty of the look and feel of a pearl grown from an oyster.  Yes, both are gritty when you rub them across your teeth-

On my 16th birthday I was presented with a beautiful pearl choker by a boy who had asked me to prom.  I thought it was a it bit much at the time, but I sure looked cute with my black silk shantung sheath dress and my pearl choker. Yes, I was marching to a different drummer and eschewed the more traditional “formal” worn by most young ladies in the early sixties.  I digress.  Those pearls started my love affair with pearls.

Through the years I picked up odds and ends of “fake” pearls, but over time was gifted and/or acquired more.  I bought myself a string of pearls when I was promoted to Account Executive for Estée Lauder, the Mr.’s family showed generosity of spirit and offered me their mother’s pearls at her passing, and a young woman on a trip to Hong Kong brought home the incredible looking “popcorn” pearls.  Since the look of “layering” and “bigger is better” became the way to put jewelry together, I took my little collection to a jeweler and asked them to put them together in a more updated look.  She braided them and made a bracelet from the choker.  I almost cried when I saw what she had done.  They were so lovely and I was so pleased to have preserved them in a way that I could/would use more often.  I love that each string of pearls has a different color, a different translucent quality, and a different shape, and that by braiding them those attributes are highlighted.

pearls

Three strands of pearls acquired over the years, braided to make the perfect necklace.