June "birthstone"…..the pearl!


 A gem of mysterious beauty, produced by a most humble life form, the mollusk! Long associated with elegance and status, civilizations of centuries past have many differnt explanations for their creation. The Greeks believed  that pearls were hardened tears of joy shed by the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite. They believed she shook them from her eyes on the day she was born. In one Arabian legend, pearls were formed  because oysters, lured from the sea bottom by the lovely moon, swallowed moonlit dew! Ancient Chinese stories tell of these treasures being embedded in the brains of great dragons!

    The scientific explanation for the creation of pearls is not nearly so romantic….when an irritant, such a parasite, piece of sand or debris lodges in the flesh of a mollusk, a protective substance called nacre is produced. Unable to extract the intruder, the mollusk coats layer upon layer of the shimmering nacre on it to protect itself, creating a lustrous pearl inside. Natural pearls are in actuality rare,  so the big business of culturing pearls was invented, which accounts for the major chunk of the pearl industry. To culture pearls,  a piece of shell or a bead is placed inside a mollusk in a farm like setting, and the process of coating it occurs.
  Natural pearls are most often found in the Persian Gulf, and the waters off Japan, South Pacific islands, Australia, and off the coasts of Venezuela, and California. The cultured pearl industry thrives predominantly in Japan and Australia. They come in colors as varied as pure white, to pink, to yellow, grey and black. In recent times, dyes of all colors can be seen, producing shades ranging from  peacock to puce, but buyer beware, anything like that is never natural!
   Ground up pearls have been used in many cultures as a cosmetic and medicine and of course, an aphrodisiac. They have adorned the crowns of kings and queens, and are said to have been a favorite of Cleopatra. Famous trademark jewelry of former first lady Barbara Bush, and of course, Wilma Flintstone, pearls  can be worn with your jeans or an evening gown! They symbolize purity and are often given to celebrate a marriage or a child’s birth. O’ thank you divine mollusk, your ‘itch’ is our delight!  Seen here is my Angel flight lariat necklace…48 inches of hand knotted on silk natural freshwater pearls, ecofriendly sterling silver and love, to wrap about your neck any way you choose…you can get your very own from my shop!

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