It was not long
ago that the pearl was more popular and valuable than diamond. Many
changes have occurred in the pearl market in the past 100 years.
Natural pearls are rare and expensive. The cultured pearl (a ball of
mother of pearl placed in an oyster as an irritant, to be covered by
the animal with layers of nacre) has become the standard. Although a
recent innovation, it should be noted that while Kokichi Mikimoto
originated the process for the "man-made" pearl, the Chinese had been
inserting images of Buddha into molluscs to create nacre-covered
talismans for seven hundred years.
with the production of the "fresh-water" mussel pearl a new revolution
has be sparked, meaning that pearls can now be produced in even
greater quantities, and inexpensive strings of medium to good pearls
are now finding their way onto the market.
pearl trade has come a long way from the days when trade caravans came
to Europe via the Persian Gulf, bringing their high quality pearls to
the west. While Bahrain is still the centre of diving for natural
pearls, the Japanese and, lately, the Chinese control the market.
rich white colour of the pearl symbolises a pure heart and makes it
especially popular with brides. They are also thought of as an aid to
digestion and to ease emotional stress.