Pearls in History

Many thousands of years ago, long before written history and well before pearls became the first known gem, humans would probably have discovered the first pearl while searching the seashore for food. Pearls have held a unique allure throughout history, transcending different cultures and religions for centuries. Countless references to the pearl can be found from the earliest recorded times. There is something about these luminescent, naturally grown gems that captures the heart, the senses and the imagination.

According to some historians, humans collected pearls because they believed that the gems provided the wearer with mythical powers: health, vitality, eternal youth and marital bliss. Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim faithful covered the walls of their churches, temples and shrines with pearls. Hindu and Arab cultures thought pearls were drops of moisture that fell from the heavens. Ancient Hindus imagined pearls as dewdrops that fell at night and collected in open oyster shells, while some Middle Easterners believed pearls were the 'tears of God'. They believed that on warm summer days, mollusks would float to the surface, open up to absorb the sunlight and catch the Holy teardrops. The warm rays of sunlight and salty tears would combine to grow a beautiful pearl when the oyster descended to the ocean floor.