Pearl jewellery is such an established part of our culture that it’s easy to forget how it all happened. Pearls are very unusual – they are made by a living animal; they emerge perfect, not requiring cutting. We aren’t sure who first discovered pearls but it was probably an accident! They quickly became associated with royalty as virtually every royal ruler, espeically in Ancient Rome, valued them for their beauty and symbolism. It took centuries before they came to the attention of India’s Mughal emperors who swiftly started using them to adorn outfits and drapes. Elizabeth 1 was said to have 3000 gowns decorated with pearls and 80 wigs with pearls sown in. She must have had some giant wardrobes too!
In 1893 a Japanese man perfected the art of culturing pearls – a feat which transformed the pearl market. A steady supply of pearls in different colours and shapes meant that designers started experimenting with pearls and they became even more fashionable. Now, China is one of the leading suppliers of cultured freshwater pearls producing pearls with amazing lustre and quality. We source most of our pearls from China and use them to create beautiful and classic pieces of pearl jewellery ideal as gifts for brides, family and friends.
Pearls are produced by a small number of molluscs in response to a tiny bead being inserted. This stimulates the production of the pearl. Chinese pearl farmers are skilled in producing pearls in different shapes and sizes which means that designers have got a lot of choice these days for their designs.