February Birthstone: Pearls
Pearls have been recognized as valuable since the beginning of time. Their luster and rich colors attract the eye and bring images of royalty of old to mind. Throughout recorded history a necklace of natural round pearls had not equal in value as pearls at one time were considered the most expensive gems in the world. With the advent of cultured pearls, many people are able to enjoy this beautiful jewel from nature.
Before cultured pearls, in the early 20th century, natural pearls were so rare and valuable that only kings and queens could afford them. In the height of the Roman empire a noted Roman historian records that a top general financed a complete campaign by selling one of his mother’s natural pearl earrings. This in it of itself denotes how pricey pearls were during Roman times. Pearls are also a main topic of many ancient Indian fables in which gods find pearls and value them. Also, Chinese history abounds with references to pearl trade and how valued they were among royalty back in the 23rd century BC. Pearls are also referenced as having high value in ancient Egyptian culture.
More recently, the Cartier Mansion in New York city was purchased by trading a double strand of natural pearls and $100 for the home of Maisie Plant, wife of Morton Plant, railroad tycoon. Pierre Cartier, grandson of the famed Parisian jeweler, and a great businessman, made the deal when Maisie Plant fell in love with the natural pearl necklace. The necklace was valued at one million dollars and her mansion was appraised at nine hundred and ninety five thousand dollars.
Cultured pearls were born in Japan when three independent efforts yielded the successful implant of a nucleus into an oyster thus allowing it to create a pearl around it. The three individuals involved were Tokichi Nishikawa, Tatsuhei Mise and Kokishi Mikimoto. The later, the most successful and prolific operator, which overtook and purchased the rights to patents issued to the other two. Mikimoto’s name is synonymous with fine cultured pearls. His technique and marketing expertise made his the most successful cultured pearl operation in the world. Still today, the name Mikimoto carries prestige and respect.
A cultured pearl is started by inserting a nucleus made of out of shell into an oyster and leaving it in the ocean to be coated with nacre, the material pearls are made from, around the nucleus. Mikimoto experimented with many substances and after years of research and trial and error created the most perfect cultured pearl by inserting the shell of a mussel which had been cut to make a perfect sphere. The source of this shell is in the United States and these mussel shells have been the basis for almost all cultured pearls for over 90 years.
Erik Diamond began his jewelry career in the pearl industry and became an expert in pearls early on. If you are looking for fine cultured or natural pearls please call us to make an appointment and he will sit with you and make sure you get the best value in Miami and Coral Gables.