I love designing with pearls!
Pearls: A Natural History published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc. in association with The
American Museum of Natural History and Chicago's Field Museum is my go-to reference when it comes to understanding this fascinating and beautiful natural gem. The two institutions have collaborated on joint exhibitions and texts about these fabulous natural wonders.
In its Forward the presidents of the two museums share that, unlike other gems, pearls are the product of living animals -- mollusks that evolved more than 500 million years ago. Fossilized pearls have been dated to be more than 200 million years old.
Likely drawn to mollusks as a food source, early humans discovered the inedible small objects hidden within their shells and, like us today, were enticed by their luster, shape, and beauty for both ornamentation and status. It's fascinating to consider that the strands we wear around our necks or the individual pearls we dangle from our ears were also worn by our earliest human ancestors for the very same reasons we choose them for ourselves today.
I've come to learn from this rich text that the kind of mollusk and the color of its shell determine a pearl's color and hue, and that pearls may be spherical or irregularly shaped depending on location of formation within the mollusk.
Ultimately the demand for pearls became so great that pearl production required human intervention, leading to the culturing of pearls which helps support the pearl market today.
My jewelry designs predominately incorporate baroque pearls which I prefer for their irregular shapes and variety of hues -- helping me to create the unexpected in my pieces. I'm very discriminating in the strands I buy for the studio.
I hope you share with me my sense of wonder and mystery surrounding these beautiful gems, and continue to make them part of your personal fashion statement.