Long ago, people believed that pearls were moonbeams that fell into the ocean and were swallowed by oysters. Although we now know that this is not true, pearls are still synonymous with romance, purity and sensuality.
Pearls are created by living creatures called mollusks. Although all mollusks which produces a shell can produce a pearl, naturally occurring pearls are still very rare (found in perhaps one of every 10,000 animals).
Throughout most of history a natural pearl necklace was a treasure of almost incomparable value, in fact the most expensive jewellery in the world. Now we see pearls almost as accessories. Before the creation of cultured pearls in the early 1900s, natural pearls were so rare and expensive that they were reserved almost exclusively for the nobility and the very rich.
Koichi Mikimoto, the son of a Japanese noodle maker, who is largely attributed with developing methods for culturing pearls, is considered the founder of the pearl culturing industry. Since this revolutionary break¬through at the beginning of the 20th Century, an empire of pearl¬-producing centres have developed around the world.
As products of living animals, pearls are unique among gems. Depending on fashions and tastes, the most sought after pearls may be perfectly round, pear-shaped or irregular. With their long history and amazing qualities, pearls are more popular than ever now.
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