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.