11 Fun Facts About Pearls
There are few things that evoke as much simple elegance and classic beauty as a pearl. Believed to symbolize purity, clarity, and loyalty, pearls have been highly sought after for many years. Here are some interesting facts that you may not know about pearls!
- Pearls are the birthstone for July and are seen as the traditional gift for 30th wedding anniversaries in the U.S.
- Pearls are the only gems created by living animals!
- Pearl is ranked 2.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, which means it's very soft and easily scratched or abraded. However, with reasonable care, pearl jewelry can be a long-lasting treasure.
- A natural pearl of value is found in less than 1 in every 10,000 wild oysters.
- There are three major types of saltwater cultured pearls: Akoya, Tahitian and South Sea. These pearls account for roughly about 5% of the total weight of global pearl production.
- Freshwater pearls account for approximately 95% of total global pearl production but are much less valuable than saltwater pearls. The majority of freshwater pearls on the market come from China's pearl farms. These farms can range from a farmer's fishpond to massive lakes filled with over a million mussels!
- Each type of pearl takes a certain amount of time to develop. In all cases, however, it can take anywhere between 6 to 24 months to produce one pearl! Chinese freshwater pearls can grow up to 5mm per year while Japanese Akoya pearls only up to 0.3mm.
- The earliest record we have of pearls as precious objects are artifacts from Mesopotamia dated to around 2300 B.C.
- In ancient Roman times, pearls were believed to be a symbol of wealth and prestige. Possessing pearls meant you belonged to a certain social class. That explains why the famous Roman ruler Julius Caesar created a law that prohibited anyone below the ruling class to wear the fine jewels.
- Recently, a two thousand-year-old pearl was found in an Australian Aboriginal archaeological dig in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
- La Peregrina (Spanish for ‘the incomparable’) is one of the most famous pearls in the world. The 500-year-old pearl is pear shaped and the size of a large pigeon’s egg. Its previous owners included a King of Spain, Napoleon Bonaparte, and famous jewelry aficionado Elizabeth Taylor.
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