Jackie knows best
Jackie Kennedy is known for her signature strand of faux pearls which is on display today at the National Museum of American History.
On the clock
It takes 5 years for an oyster to produce a medium-sized pearl.
Pearls are the birthstone for people born in the month of June.
According to an ancient Egyptian legend, Cleopatra dissolved a pearl in wine to prove her love for Marc Antony and to show him that she could consume the wealth of a nation in a matter of minutes.
Jacques Cartier traded a double stranded natural pearl necklace valued at $1.2 million for a mansion on 5th Avenue in NYC where he opened the Cartier flagship store in 1916.
Words of wisdom
"I feel undressed if I don't have my pearls on. My pearls are my security blanket." ~Lady Sarah Churchill
Here comes the bride
It's tradition for a bride to wear pearls on her wedding day because the gem is believed to signify purity and beauty. This has been a tradition since the time of the Ancient Greeks who believed that pearls were the tears of the gods. Brides wore pearls so that they wouldn't cry on their wedding day.
About 95% of pearls harvested are cultured or cultivated pearls. This means that mollusks are artificially implanted with small seeds and tended to in a farm.
Breakfast at Tiffany's
Holly Golightly's iconic pearl and diamond necklace from Breakfast at Tiffany's is estimated to be worth over $50,000.
The mother of pearls
The most famous pearl is the "La Peregrina," (the incomparable). This pearl is pear-shaped and its previous owners include Mary Tudor, Napoleon and most recently, Elizabeth Taylor.
No two pearls are exactly alike and no pearl is perfect; all have some sort of imperfection.
Pearls derive their iridescence not from a mineral but from an organic material called nacre; the mollusk secretes it when an irritant (usually a microscopic organism—not a sand) finds its way into the fleshy part inside the shell. Pearls emerge from those shells as finished products, requiring no cutting or shaping to bring out their radiant allure.
Virtually every major empire of antiquity, especially ancient Rome, valued pearls for their beauty and powerful symbolism. However, it took Persian Gulf pearl traders in the 18th and 19th centuries to bring the gems to the attention of India's Mughal emperors, who festooned tunics, ornamental belts, carpets, and canopies with ropes of the silvery baubles, forever imbuing pearls with lavish, upper-crust associations.
By 1900 demand for the natural sea-born treasures was so high that scientists in Japan and Australia (both areas are surrounded by seas with large pearl-producing oyster populations) began to experiment in ways to intervene the process. In 1893, Kokichi Mikimoto, the son of a noodle maker, perfected a method of culturing pearls, a process in which a spherical bead or piece of mantle tissue is implanted in the mollusk, stimulating nacre formation. Mikimoto's marketing savvy changed the arc of pearl history.
The heavy hem
At the peak of the Romans' obsession with pearls, during the first century BC, women upholstered couches with them and sewed so many into their gowns that they trampled their own pearl-embroidered hems. Lupita Nyong'O revived the look in 2015 with a pearl-encrusted Calvin Klein dress.
Photo: KEVIN MAZUR/WIRE IMAGE
Known as mukta ("the pure") in Sanskrit, pa-le in Burmese, chun-ti in Chinese, and lulu in Arabic, the pearl was one of nine gems that formed the navaratna, the talismanic nine-gem jewel of ancient Sanskrit culture.
Four out of every 54,000 conch shells yield a cotton candy-colored conch pearl.
At first bite
The tooth test is a method of determining if a pearl is genuine or not. Gently slide it across the front of your teeth; the real thing will feel slightly gritty, not smooth.
Rather than keep her pearls locked up in a safe, Sara Murphy liked to wear hers to the beaches of the French Riviera. Clearly an early proponent of high-low dressing, the American expat preferred to have extralong strands dangling down her back. She believed that the sun helped bring out the pearls' natural luminescence.
Photo: ESTATE OF HONORIA MURPHY DONNELLY
The royal line
Elizabeth I was said to have 3,000 gowns decorated with pearls, as well as 80 wigs festooned with them. It's an embellishment that's been embraced by fashion designers, especially in recent years.
Photo: ANN RONAN PICTURES/GETTY