Pearls produced by molluscs whose shells are lined with mother-of-pearl (saltwater oysters and freshwater clams) have enchanted people with their beauty over many centuries. It is no surprise that the word has become a metaphor for something very rare and valuable. Colours can vary from white to black, with delicate shades of cream, rose, grey, blue, green and mauve also found, but it is the translucence and lustre of the pearl that is its most prized aspect.
Did you know?
- It is the environment in which the mollusc lives which determines the pearl’s colour and it can take up to 7 years for a pearl to develop.
- Pearl is the birthstone for June.
- Pearls were important symbols of wealth, and in Medieval Europe there were even laws determining who could and could not wear pearls.
- Some historians believe that such was the pearl craze in the Roman era, one of Caesar’s motivations for invading Britain was to acquire freshwater pearls.
- Pearls are traditionally offered on a 30th wedding anniversary.