In the Louvre is one of the oldest pearl necklaces dating back to the fifth century BC which is believed to have belonged to a Persian queen.
Pearls have been used as a form of money and you could pay your taxes in this way. Pearls have been used to decorate clothing as well as adornment in the shape of earrings, necklaces, tiaras and bracelets. Nero liked to roll around on a bed of pearls. Pearls were also used in crowns and thrones and carpets such as the famous bejewelled pearl carpet of Baroda, originally commissioned as a gift for the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad.
Obsession with pearls is well recorded such as Queen Elizabeth 1 who wore her pearls on her deathbed. Julius Caesar gave Servilia a pearl. Military campaigns were financed by the sale of pearl earrings. Caligula gave his horse a string of pearls! Richard Burton gave Liz Taylor a pearl bought at auction in 1969.
There are some lovely myths associated with pearls such as the one of Lord Krishna who defied the seas to gather pearls for a wedding gift for his daughter. When banished from Eden, the tears of Eve were pearls according to Hebrew Legend. Japanese myth refer to pearls being tears of joy and in another Adam and Eve cried a lake of tears which were orbs(pearls), more white orbs from Eve than black orbs from Adam because he was more in control of his emotions. Ancient Christians thought that a shell surfaced the sea to harvest the light of the sun, the stars and the moon to make pearls. Polynesian legend say that the God of Peace and Fertility came to earth on a rainbow to deliver a black pearl to humans in order to promote peace and fertility. The Chinese thought pearls came with the rain from the spit of fighting dragons. Pearls are believed to be the Mother Gem of the Sea and as such are sacred to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.
Pearls have fetched large sums of money as for example in November 1999, Christie's Geneva sold a single-strand pearl necklace, which belonged to Marie-Antoinette, Princess of Hungary and Bohemia, Arch duchess of Austria and Queen of France, and later by the American Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton. Comprising forty-one graduated pearls, measuring approximately 8.50 to 16.35 mm, this superb single-strand necklace sold for a then world record of $1,450,000.
Five years later in November 2004, Christie's Geneva offered a two-strand pearl necklace--double the number of pearls and equal in size to the Marie Antoinette/Hutton necklace--which sold for $3,128,520.
Pearls are evident in many of the great paintings housed in museums and galleries around the world.
Great powers have been attributed to pearls such as bringing love, wealth and prosperity to the wearer. In therapy pearls are thought to help you in letting go of the past or old ideas that are no longer valid.
An artist with an eye for pearls, was the seventeenth-century Dutch master, Johannes Vermeer whose absolute masterwork, 'Girl With the Pearl Earring' captures the precise realism of the gem.
Elizabeth and display of 'pearl mania'!
Link to wealth of further information about pearls:-