The History of Cultured Pearl Jewelry

The History of Cultured Pearl Jewelry

To kick off our Pearl Series, this post will be dedicated to the history of Cultured Pearls.

Pearls have a long history of being treasured and cherished. At ALKU Jewelers in Katy, Texas, we believe more jewelry fanatics should have access to stunning pearls, not only to enjoy their beauty, but also because they are a timeless addition to your collection. This is why we lovingly and thoughtfully curate The Most Beautiful Pearls In The World from Mastoloni.

Pearls Throughout Our Ancient History

Natural pearls existed long before cultured pearls, but they were extremely rare. Divers would have to scour the ocean floor for mollusks and then sort through them in hopes of maybe finding some pearls, which happened on rare occasions, so when they did succeed, only the wealthiest in the world and royalty could afford them.

To illustrate, Cleopatra herself is said to have enjoyed wearing pearls. As the story goes, one day she made a bet with Marc Antony that she would consume the most expensive dinner in the history of humanity, so she let one of her pearls dissolve in her wine and drank it with her meal.

How Cultured Pearls Changed The Future

In the 1900's, Tatsuhei Mise, a carpenter, began implanting mollusks with lead and silver. Two years later, he had harvested small pearls which he had received a patent for. At the same time, Dr. Nishikawa, a marine biologist, started using gold and silver nuclei to seed oysters, which also resulted in harvesting small pearls. Also around the same time, Kokichi Mikimoto, a vegetable vendor, had experimented with many different ways to harvest cultured pearls and in 1921, cultured pearls first appeared on the market and became more accessible.

How Cultured Pearls Became More Desirable

Now that cultured pearls allowed more jewelry lovers to add pearls to their collection, it was time to make them even more desirable. To do this, cultured pearls underwent different "treatments" to make them shine more beautifully. Some treatments include bleaching, dying, and buffing, but the fewer the treatments, the more valuable the pearl.

Cultured pearls became even more popular and desirable once icons like Jackie O, Audrey Hepburn, CoCo Chanel, and Marilyn Monro adorned themselves with beautiful pearl jewelry.

Beautiful Fine Pearl Jewelry at ALKU Modern Jewelers

One of the many reasons we love pearls is because they are made of a powerful, iconic history. History, art, and science came together to create cultured pearls. If you would like to add this staple to your jewelry collection, please contact us today so we can help you find your perfect piece of fine pearl jewelry. by Mastoloni.

Keep an eye out for the next part in our Pearl Series: Akoya Pearls.