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Tahitian Pearl

History of the Pearl

Cultivated by man since recently, perfect from birth, naturally as beautiful as charming, and among the most sought-after on Earth, the pearl is also one of the most fascinating gems.

Earrings. Roman, 0-200

Nature’s miracles ? Gifts from Gods ? Pearls are truly enigmatic, and throughout the centuries, they have been inspiring many legends. For maori from Polynesia, Oro, God of Peace and Fertility, was the very first able to reveal to men the beauty of the black pearl. He came down from a rainbow to Earth to declare his love for the Princess of Bora-Bora. Then he gave her a black pearl from Tahiti. Coral and sand spirit joined him, decking the oyster with a shining nacreous vault, so it reflects the myriad of colors from the fish in Polynesian lagoons.

Earrings, 220 CE,
The Israel Museum

On every continent and since antiquity, the symbolism of the pearl has revealed its aura. Revered and magic for ancient Egyptians, it symbolized purity for ancient Greeks, love for Romans, wealth for Arabs, as well as luck and happiness for Hindus or even wisdom for Chinese. In Europe, for a long time, the pearl was closely related to religion and ideals such as harmony and immortal perfection. Actually, since time immemorial the pearl has been the most precious and the best-known gem in the world.

Pearls were not common in Europe, and the accession of Alexander the Great which led East and West to trade helped this gem to spread into the West. Crusades in the 12th and the 13th centuries inspired in Europe a passion for pearls. In the course of following decades, pearls gained in importance in the West, but only in the 18th century would European explorers discover the islands of Tahiti birthplace of pearls from South Pacific Ocean.

HM Queen Therese of Bavaria (1792-1854)
Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen
HM Queen Therese of Bavaria (1792-1854)
Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen