PEARL

A pearl is a hard object produced within the soft tissue (specifically the mantle) of a living shelled mollusc.   Just like the shell of a clam, a pearl is made up of calcium carbonate in minute crystalline form, which has been deposited in concentric layers.  The ideal pearl is perfectly round and smooth, but many other shapes of pearls (baroque pearls) occur. The finest quality natural pearls have been highly valued as gemstones and objects of beauty for many centuries, and because of this, the word pearl has become a metaphor for something very rare, fine, admirable, and valuable.  Our model is Jen Clasby.

The most valuable pearls occur spontaneously in the wild, but they are extremely rare.  These wild pearls are referred to as natural pearls. Cultured or farmed pearls from pearl oysters  and freshwater mussels make up the majority of those that are currently sold.  Imitation pearls are also widely sold in inexpensive jewelry, but the quality of their iridescence is usually very poor, and often, artificial pearls are easily distinguished from genuine pearls.  Pearls have been harvested and cultivated primarily for use in jewelry, but in the past they were also stitched onto lavish clothing.  Pearls have also been crushed and used in cosmetics, medicines, and in paint formulations.

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Whether wild or cultured, gem quality pearls are almost always nacreous and iridescent, as is the interior of the shell that produces them. However, almost all species of shelled molluscs are capable of producing pearls (formally referred to as “calcareous concretions” by some sources) of lesser shine or less spherical shape. Although these may also be legitimately referred to as “pearls” by gemological labs and also under U.S. Federal Trade Commission rules, and are formed in the same way, most of them have no value, except as curiosities.

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Early Chinese civilization considered black pearls a symbol of wisdom and thought them to be formed within a dragons head. They believed that one had to slay the dragon to gather these pearls, which once full-grown, were carried between the dragon’s teeth.  The Japanese once believed that pearls were created from the tears of mythical creatures such as mermaids, nymphs and angels.  One Persian legend tells how pearls were created when a rainbow met the earth after a storm, imperfections in a pearls appearance were thought to be the result of thunder and lightning.  The ancient Egyptians prized their pearls so much they were buried with them. Cleopatra reportedly dissolved a pearl from one of her earrings in a glass of either wine or vinegar, depending on the source, and drank it. She did this just to show Mark Anthony that she could devour the wealth of an entire nation in just one gulp.  Astrologers link it to the moon and it  was said in some early cultures that the pearl was born when a single drop of rain fell from the heavens and became the heart of the oyster. Pearls have been called the ‘teardrops of the moon’.  Some believe that pearls were formed by the passage of angels through the clouds of heaven.

Text via Squidoo | Wikipedia | crystal-cure.com

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Pearl | Featuring: Jennifer Clasby

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