Saturday, 11 June 2011


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:-

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


Finding a course in making necklaces.........minefield....reviewed many but found that they were mostly for the hobbyist.  I needed to be able to string my pearls to a professional standard.   Books, videos, networking and asking many questions that were answered reluctantly led me to a point where I could start making my first string of pearls.........

Full time day job and 18 months of evenings and weekends dedicated to my pearl stringing exercise......I had no idea how many ways silk thread could knot itself, snag, break and reduce me to tears of frustration.  Do I wax the thread, different hole sizes and using the wrong thread size,  enlarging holes, finishing a necklace, ends attaching to clasp not even,  having made a knot between each pearl only to find I missed a couple, unable to undo a knot and having to start again, making a decision to make a necklace with no knots separating the individual pearls... wrong decision....learning to gauge the amount of pearls required to produce a necklace of a particular length....16inches or 18inches... smaller diameter pearls versus larger.....calculating the increase in length when putting a knot between each pearl.

By the end of this learning curve, I had acquired glasses,  binocular magnifiers, a whole range of jewellers tools and had probably strung in the region of 600 necklaces.  

So what.......the proof of the success of my efforts will only be evident when I can convert this to a saleable product!


Number One Son visited and left, none the wiser that his mother had spent a small fortune on the off chance that she could create an income and believe me, I managed to walk past that hall cupboard as if it never existed.

Eventually I plucked up the courage, pulled out all the boxes and started sorting the pearls.  The colours were all very muted and had a depth that made me think of the double strand of pearls my mother used to wear 50 years ago when I was a young girl.  I found that I started stopping at every pearl jewllery counter to see if I could find similar pearls.  The only time I saw something similar was amongst antique or vintage jewellery dealers stock.

For weeks my sittingroom floor was covered in various piles of pearls, eventually I go to the last box which also had a couple of envelopes and some written notes that appeared to be stock records.  At last I knew and had confirmation that I had a huse stock of vintage pearls.  The envelopes contained two invoices from a Spanish company which explained the Spanish stock references written on each parcel of pearls.  The invoices were dated 1941 and 1940 and the invoices made reference to the fact that due to the war the shipment contained no silk in the way of ribbon or thread.  So although I cannot confirm that these pearls were part of the consignment mentioned in these invoices, at least it gave me an indication as to the era from which my pearls came.

During the war wool, cotton, linen, rayon, silk and nylon was commandeered by the government for military uniforms and supplies.

I still had no idea how I was to turn these strings of pearls into necklaces with a clasp....something you could actually wear!