Since the ancient times, diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, green jades and pearls has long been favored and are called the “five emperors and one queen” in the jewelry industry. Pearls are compared with the elegant and noble women. They are of noble status, gorgeous appearance, elegant bearing and pure nature. With these features, they are used as ornaments to satisfy people’s desire for beauty.
According to the geologists’ observations and inspections, large amount of mollusks began to multiply in Triassic period 200 million years ago. And the precondition of the generation of pearls is the existence of mollusks.
Pearls are one of the earliest jewelries that human beings make use of. As to the specific time and place that human beings first found and used pearls, we could not tell. What we do know is that, the moment when a pearl was found out, human beings was so much attracted by its natural beauty that they were unwilling to part with it. They not only regarded it as a gift from God, but also treated it as if it had been the God. They regarded it as a symbol for wealth and nobleness. People with different races from all over the world have shown their love toward pearls, which behavior is without any prior consult.
Different races in the world have their own history in seeking for pearls, which might be as long as their cultures. It has been more than one thousand years since they first began to do this.
According to the records, regions well-known in history as places for the production of pearls in the world include Maldives in the Indian Ocean, southern coast on the south of India, Mannar Gulf west of Sri Lanka, Bay of Bengal, seas near Egypt (Red Sea) and the Persian Gulf especially (including coasts of United Arab Emirates and coasts of Oman, Bahrain, Quatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arab).
The history of seeking for pearls in areas like the Persian Gulf is at least four thousand years long. In the first Book of the Bible Genesis, it records, from the Garden of Eden that the Thomson River out flow, “where there is pearl and agate everywhere”.
People from Egypt, Persia and India all have a keen interest on pearls. Ancient Romans also have great passion for pearls. They bought pearls from areas in Persian Gulf by all means. Because of pearls’ rarity and preciousness, at that time, wearing pearls in Rome was a symbol for nobleness.
As early as hundreds of years ago, it was popular to have pearls as ornaments among the nobles in ancient Egypt. Even the queen of Egypt regarded the possession of pearls as a great honor.
The history of Indian people’s love toward pearls is also very long- for thousands of years. Shallow waters along the coast of the Indian Ocean on south of India is the place of origin for pearls with good quality. It has been four thousand years since Indian people got to know the luxury pearls. There are records on pearls everywhere in either ancient India’s Buddhist classics or cultural classics. In Saddharmapundarika Sutra and Amitabha Sutra, there are records saying that pearls are one of the “seven Buddhist treasures”. Today, although ancient Indian pearls are mostly lost, we can still sense their glorious past from a trace of marks left by history. In Baroda, a city in India, today there is still a priceless pearl cord, on which 100 lines of pearls are embedded.
People from Western Europe, their love to pearls started after the advent of Christian era. It is said that there was an adventurer in Spain, who wrote with emotion after his return from the journey to the East, which is India, that “there are gens in each room, and the temple are decorated by pearls”, “there are so many pearls that you cannot take them all off, even with nine hundred people and three hundred horses.”
While the pearls’ epoch in Western Europe did not come until it was the 15th century. Many European countries began to make laws for pearls after year 1530. They regulated that people had to wear pearls according to their social status and identities. As a result, pearls, like the other valuable gems, became an emblem for the nobles to show their wealth and high position.
In history of Europe, there was once a period called “pearls’ epoch”. In the Crusades, European people brought large amount of pearls from the East, thus came up the popularity of pearls in Europe. In the following few centuries, the nobles and the knights wore pearls as their personal ornaments. Later, pearls even became the proprietary treasures of the royalties. Many European countries began to make laws for pearls after the year of 1530, regulating that people had to wear pearls according to their social status and identities. In 1612, English royalties made laws regulating in a detailed way that general nobles, experts, scholars, doctors and their wives could not wear pearls. Only the royalties can. British Queen ElizabethⅠwas also very fond of pearls. She always wore pearls as ornaments on her clothes and headwear. However, to set an example, there were regulations that the upper-class people, including the royalties, noble ladies and so on, could not use pearls as ornaments to self-display, which caused the sudden rise of pearls’ price at that time. Time has gone by. And today, people’s love and cherishment to pearls are growing on and on.
It can be said that pearls were of supreme status before the 17th century, which is the most glorious days for pearls.