Pearls have long held a place in the collective jewelry box of our consciousness. Since ancient times, pearls have been a symbol of fertility, hidden knowledge and femininity. The pearl is associated with the Roman goddess Venus, who was also born of a seashell. Before cultured pearls hit the scene at the turn of the 20th century, the pearl was such a rare, exclusive item that it existed solely in the domain of royalty and the super rich. In the first century AD, the Roman general Vitellius was said to have financed an entire military campaign with the sale of just one of his mother's pearl earrings.

The status of pearls was so heightened because they were incredibly difficult to find. Pearls couldn’t be mined like other gems; instead, natural pearls are organically formed inside mollusk shells. They’re like little treasures sent from the gods ¬– fully formed with no need to be cut or finished. Legend holds that the Hindu god Krishna plucked a pearl from the ocean to gift to his daughter on her wedding day, thus discovering the first pearl.

In 1916 Japan, Kokichi Mikimoto patented the pearl-culturing method that today’s markets now reply upon. By enticing oysters to produce pearls on-demand, Mikimoto made the pearl available to a broader audience. Of course, variations in quality and color are still present in the cultured pearl world, so price fluctuates accordingly. Pearls today are categorized by color and waters of origin. Saltwater pearls are mostly grown in Asia and include the Akoya, Tahitian, and South Sea varieties. These lovelies are usually white, cream, gray, or purple (typically classed as white or black). Freshwater pearls are mostly grown in Chinese lakes, rivers, and ponds, and are available in a more extensive color palette that includes pretty pastels in pink, blue, green, yellow, and purple.

The lustrous pearl is a timeless piece that can either go Classic: a lá Coco Chanel’s lengthy strand of matched round white pearls – or Contemporary: like Kimberlin Brown’s organically-shaped iridescent stunners. Personally, we’re a fan of a “pearl with an edge” look, where the jewel is complimented by a strong, sculptural metal element. 

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