Tag: history

Romance Within a Pearl!

Pearls have always been a timeless when worn as jewelry. Going back hundreds of years, pearls were a symbol of love and romance. The ancient Greeks wore pearls at their wedding ceremonies, believing they would ensure material bliss and prevent the bride from crying. Although we have come a long way from “ancient”, we still use those traditions today. Many brides still prefer to wear pearls instead of diamonds on their wedding day! A classic white pearl necklace would definitely add the classic touch you need to your gorgeous gown. Pearls are definitely a romantic piece of jewelry, and when you wear them, you’ll feel the love!

Stock Photo

Baroda Pearl Carpet

Pearls Under Your Feet

When you think of pearls, the words ‘elegant’ and ‘classy’ usually come to mind. After reading about Basra pearls, you might just add the word ‘luxurious’ to that list.

Originating from the Persian and Arabian Gulf and countries such as Bahrain and Kuwait, Basra pearls have created quite the reputation amongst pearl enthusiasts the world over.

Produced by the Pinctada Radiate (Gulf Pearl Oyster) the earliest records of these pearls date back to 300 B.C.!  The supply has diminished significantly since the oil industry boomed in the Arab countries, which dealt a heavy blow to the pearl culturing industry the region. This plot takes a fortuitous turn, since this shrinking market has made the Basra pearl all the more desirable.

Basra pearls are of an irregular shape, often having a yellow or pink tint. The most sought after Basra Pearls are the natural, un-drilled pearls with a silvery white tone and a spherical shape.

This is a one of a kind piece called the Baroda Pearl carpet. It’s hard to imagine, but here you can see how 30,000 carats of pearls will look if you decide to use them as a carpet for your living room!

Take a closer look…

Basra Pearl Carpet

The House a Necklace Bought

In my search for unique pearls, I came across an inspiring story about the origins of the famous Cartier building in New York City. The story is told that in 1915 Louis Cartier made history with the first natural, double-stranded Oriental pearl necklace costing $1.2 million ($16 million today). This necklace was placed on exhibition all over the world including Paris, London, and New York City. In the fall of 1916, the necklace’s appearance in New York reportedly caused a huge uproar with women from all over coming to admire them. Among these ladies was Mae “Maisie” Plant. At the time Cartier’s New York Salon was on the second floor of a small building in an inconspicuous part of town. Coincidently, Maisie had just placed her $1.2 million mansion up for sale. Knowing she wanted to sell her mansion anyway, Maisie approached Cartier and proposed a trade…the mansion for the pearl necklace. Surprisingly, Cartier accepted. Ever since that exchange, the Cartier firm has been located in the former Plant mansion and has come to be a great landmark for tourists in New York City.


Regrettably, things did not go as well for Maisie as with Cartier. Seeing how she didn’t anticipate the depression, war, or the introduction of cultured pearls her necklace did not end up being an even trade. Maisie died in 1956 and in 1957, her $1.2 million necklace was sold at auction for a mere $170,000; the current value of the Fifth Avenue mansion I’ll leave to your imagination. More recently, in 2004, a similar natural, double-strand pearl necklace sold at Christie’s for $3.1 million. Because only one gem-quality pearl is uncovered from every 25,000 wild oysters found in the ocean, these pearls are considered the rarest in the world today. If only Plants’ heirs had held on to her necklace for a few more decades, they could have sold Maisie’s pearls for much more!

Maisie Plant and her fabulous double strand of natural pearls from Cartier.
Maisie Plant and her fabulous double strand of natural pearls from Cartier.
Vintage Lady with Pearls

Modern Girls and Vintage Pearls

What do Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor all have in common? A love for PEARLS! Pearls are no longer reserved for the necks of royalty and first ladies; they have made their way into the glamour and fashion of today’s top trendsetters.  Although the word “Classy” may no longer be the first word to come to mind, we notice that each woman puts her own personal spin on the way she wears her pearls, from Lady Ga Ga’s pearl encrusted body, to Sara Jessica Parker’s love for layering, to Angelina Jolie’s simple strand. It’s a beautiful thing to see just how versatile pearls can really be. Pearls have proven to be the perfect accessory to any outfit for any occasion! No matter what personal spin these ladies put on their pearls, it proves that pearls have stood the test of time, and ever-changing trends. We expect they’ll continue their reign as the “Queen of Gems and the gem of queens”!


Gorgeous Vintage Pearls


Modern Girls and Their Pearls

Genuine Hand-Faceted Blue Topaz Chandelier

Shimmering Ice – The Tale of a Very Expensive Lighting Fixture

Once a Gem Cutter, always a Gem Cutter, Pearls International’s own Jim Stradley got his start in jewelry by purchasing his own gem cutting outfit upon returning from serving our country in Viet Nam. He has a history of cutting some of the finest and most unique gems in the world. Some of these gems have even made their way into museums like the Smithsonian Institute. A perfectionist at his art, Jeweler Jim has cut a 2,165 carat flawless blue topaz, fine amethysts weighing 605 carats, and even emeralds worth over $100,000.  Although we at Pearls International know him as the Pearl Guy, his first love was cutting gems.

Jim Stradley, the Pearl Guy

One of his best pieces, the Shimmering Ice Chandelier, made of blue topaz and totaling 5,712.69 carats, is a masterpiece in itself. Many of the topaz pieces making up the chandelier he collected himself in the Tarryall Mountains of Colorado. Jim gathered the remaining gems for this chandelier from exotic parts all over the world including Brazil, Madagascar, and Mozambique. Over 550 separate briolettes make up this fine work of art, the biggest of which weighs just over 185 carats. This one of a kind chandelier houses eight candles that brighten and accent each gem. The chandelier is now housed in Pearls International and can be seen immediately upon entering the showroom.

Pearls for Men

Pearls: The Final Frontier in Men’s Fashion?

Did you know the fetish for pearls goes as far back as 520 BC, when the oldest known pearl jewelry was buried with the sarcophagus of a Persian princess?

We were inspired about the history of pearls, and in our travels, we came across a great article over at www.howtobeswell.com. The article made it clear that pearls on men can be totally sexy and would make a great gift for your best guy!

Pearls have a long and storied history, but we think the most interesting thing about pearl fashion is that until very recently, pearls were worn by men as often as they were worn by women!

There was nothing effeminate about the men who wore these pearls. They were the handsome, rich, and powerful leaders of their times, and the pearls they wore only served to underline their influence in their societies. The wealthier you were, the more pearls you could afford. A man wearing ropes and ropes of pearls would have turned heads everywhere he went!

Men didn’t go small with their pearl jewelry, either!  The trend was “more is more” and old portraits show dashing gents simply dripping with the gorgeous jewels. The multiple strand look has proved to be timeless, as you can see even today in the lovely layered look you find on (women’s) fashion runways the world over.

Pearls were prized by men of nearly every major culture, and historians have found evidence of the use of pearls as adornment from places as varied as Britain, China, Greece, and India.


Prince Rana of Dholp
Prince Rana of Dholp: Doing his best to wear as many pearls as possible across his manly muscly chest.
Crown of Henry VII
Recreation of the crown of Henry VIII of England: This guy was the manly-man of his age. No sissy stuff here!
Prince Charles of Wales
Prince Charles of Wales knew how to rock a masculine pair of pearl earrings!
Pearl Merman
This manly merman is made of pearls!

Modern pearl jewelry for men focuses more on increasing the masculinity of the setting the pearl lives in. Leather, chunky metal, and inlay often make an appearance in today’s jewelry. It’s a great balance between the soft satin look of the pearl and the harder edge that today’s men’s fashions require. Pearls easily go from trendy to finely elegant, as seen in these examples:

Men's Pearls
Whoa, studmuffin alert! Look at that pearl! This picture says it all for the man that may be new to wearing pearls. Seriously guys, pearls look hot on you!
Pearls for Men
Wowza! Those pearl cufflinks, rings, and necklaces would make us melt (It might just be his razor-sharp jawline)!
Steven Tyler Pearls
Trend-setting the Steven Tyler way. If Steven can look good in pearls anybody can! We daresay he looks fantastic sporting multiple layers of rugged pearls on leather rope.
Pearl Cufflinks
Pearls have always been a symbol of wealth and prestige. The only factor that has changed is the fashion trend and how we wear them today.

Pearls for every man and every look is the trend for this holiday season.  Timeless, classic, elegant, trendy and sexy.  For the man that has everything, give him a set of pearls!

Since we think it’s important to start teaching “real men” to wear pearls when they are REALLY CUTE LITTLE BOYS, we leave you with this adorable little tyke, rocking the pearl look!

Little boy with pearl



What’s the difference between oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops?

Oysters, clams, mussels and scallops – aren’t those all the same thing?!

Close – these animals all belong to the mollusk family, and have lots of similarities. Are all members of the mollusk family, which includes any invertebrate having one, two or more shells that wholly or partially enclose their soft, unsegmented body. Other mollusks you may know are snails, squids and octopuses. Oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops are all commonly farmed or harvested for food and they all also have the ability to produce a pearl, although the types of pearls they can produce are all very different. To learn more about some amazing naturally formed pearls (from more than just oysters!) Check out our awesome Natural Pearls blog to help shed some more light on the differences between some of the mollusks mentioned in this blog.

So now that you know how they’re similar, let’s get to why you’re really here: to learn how they’re different. Lets break it down:
According to dictionary.com, an oyster is any of several edible, marine, bivalve mollusks of the family Ostreidae, having an irregularly shaped shell, occurring on the bottom of or adhering to rocks or other objects in shallow water.

A clam is any of various bivalve mollusks, especially certain edible species.

Mussels are any bivalve mollusk, especially an edible marine bivalve of the family Mytilidae and a freshwater clam of the family Unionidae.

And scallops are any of the bivalve mollusks of the genus Argopecten (Pecten) andrelated genera that swim by rapidly clapping the fluted shell valves together.

Still confused? Lets compare them side by side.
Clams and scallops can move about in their environment, while mussels and oysters are rooted into wherever they attach their shell. As mentioned in the dictionary.com definition above, scallops move by clapping their shells together. Here’s some video proof:

Clams move by opening their shell and sticking out a large foot that they use to push themselves along the surface with. As seen in the following video, the “foot” actually looks more like a huge tongue! They really are neat animals.

Mussels also have feet, although they prefer to remain attached to their substrate.

Wild oyster shells are typically rough, dull, and covered in barnacles.
Wild oyster shells are typically rough, dull, and covered in barnacles.

In appearance, all are very similar. Oysters typically have round or oval shaped shells, mussel shells are more oblong, clam shells are typically more short and squat in shape, and can be smooth or have wide waves as seen in the giant clam.

Short, round clam shells
Short, round clam shells.

Scallops have the iconic sea-shell shape.

Colorful scallop shells
Scallops come in a range of colors.

These animals exist in a wide range of sizes, but mussels typically are the smallest of the mollusks, averaging only a couple inches across.

A bed of mussels
A bed of mussels. They are typically small and come in a wide range of colors.

The average size for scallops are two to three inches, with the largest species being the deep-sea scallop at five or six inches across. Oysters and clams, on the other hand, can grow to be huge! The largest oyster discovered was around 15 inches, and giant clams can reach a whopping six feet in length. In fact, one of these massive clams actually produced a fourteen pound pearl.

This example of a giant clam has a large, ridged shell.
This example of a giant clam has a large, ridged shell.

Although all of these mollusks are similar, all have their own roots or traditions.  Clams were worshiped by the Moche people of ancient Peru and used as money by the Algonquin Indians. Scallops symbolize femininity in many cultures. The outward shell represents the protective and nurturing ability that a mother possesses. The famous painting of the Roman goddess of love and fertility, Venus, painted by Botticelli includes a scallop shell. Also, in ancient cultures a young couple desiring to bear offspring had to make a pilgrimage and often carried a scallop shell as a symbol of gaining fertile abilities. In Christianity, the a scallop shell is often seen as a symbol of a pilgrimage, thanks to the use of a scallop shell by the apostle St. James the Great, who traveled with a shell and would only ask those he met for enough to fill the shell – whether it be a small drink of water or a mouthful of food. The scallop shell now also appears in many pieces of religious Western art.

Fascinated by the world of oysters and their mollusk cousins? You may be interested in opening your own oyster at home!


Pearly Whirly Pearl Fact – Who Really Was the First to Cultivate Pearls?

Although Kokichi Mikimoto is credited with discovering how to culture pearls, two other Japanese men, Tokichi Nishikawa and Tatsuhei Mise, also had a hand in the science of pearl cultivation. Eventually  Mikimoto bought out the rights of the other two pearl culturers and started a huge business of pearl culturing. His business eventually became the premier brand of cultured Akoya pearls.

Bride with Pearls

Wedding Bells are Ringing, and Pearls Bring Tears of Joy!

The tradition of elegant jewelry and beautiful gowns on your wedding day is something that has been passed down from generation to generation. It is a timeless American custom that will most likely never change, just evolve and adjust with times and fashions. One fashion that has never changed is the tradition of pearls on your wedding day!

During the Renaissance, pearls were so highly regarded that several European countries passed laws forbidding anyone outside the nobility from wearing them. Even today, a single strand of white pearls represents a pristine and sophisticated style. The ancient Greeks associated the pearl with love and marriage, and unrivaled beauty. They also believed the pearl would promote marital harmony.

Wearing pearls on your wedding day may appear to be controversial. To some, there is a tradition of passing a strand of pearls from one generation to the next for the new bride to wear on her wedding day. The pearls are worn to “take away the bride’s tears”; to ensure a happy marriage without tears, or to ensure that the only tears shed will be tears of joy. Pearls symbolize love, success, wisdom, health, wealth, and purity.

This tradition does not require that the strand of pearls be passed from one generation to the next, since the bride or someone close to her can purchase a pearl necklace as a piece of wedding jewelry and still follow the wedding tradition. Oftentimes the father or the bride or the groom gives the gift of pearls. Many brides also give their bridesmaids pearl necklaces, bracelets, or earring sets to have others coordinate with the bride’s look on her wedding day!

What other jewelry could better define the marital “couple” than a couple of pearl earrings to match that gorgeous pearl necklace? Pearls are obviously the best choice for wedding accessories for bridal parties, Mother of the Bride and Groom, and of course, the beautiful bride herself.

Ocean View

Legends of the Pearl

Taking a break from feeding you information and facts about pearls, I came across these legends and found them to be very interesting! The Arab legend really makes the oyster seem like such a unique little creature!

“According to Arab legend; Pearls come into being from dewdrops, which fall from heaven on the night of the full moon.  The oysters then carry away into the depths of the sea, a little of that marvelous light from the star that marks out our time – and the pearl is born.” Oysters are so fascinating!

“It is said that the Roman General Vitellius financed an entire military campaign by selling just one of his mother’s earrings.” That’s unbelievable!

“According to Chinese tradition, pearls bring love, money, protection and luck. Pearls are also thought to quicken the laws of karma, keep children safe and strengthen love relationships. Pearls have also always been symbols of purity and innocence.” We like to think our pearls will do the same!

“The pearl is the only gem that can emerge from nature perfect and complete. Unlike diamonds and other gemstones, it does not require cutting and polishing to reveal its beauty. It is nature’s perfection in a luminous droplet.”

It’s true, if you’ve never opened an oyster to find a pearl…YOU NEED TO!

Order your own oyster today!

Quotes from mermaidpearls.com

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