Appearing for the first time during Prehistory, it was during certain excavations on Palaeolithic tombs that Pearl Stone could be observed for the first time, not as a piece of jewellery or a necklace. The stone was sewn directly onto clothing with various shells. The Palaeolithic sites where the ritual could be observed are mainly La Madeleine in the Dordogne, Grimaldi in Italy and the Sungir site in Russia. In Russia, it was a vast settlement estimated to have appeared more than 32,000 years ago. The site contained the grave of an adult accompanied by two children who were buried together. The bodies’ clothes were entirely covered with thousands of peal stones. During an archaeological mission carried out by the French in the United Arab Emirates, various excavations were carried out at the site of Umm al-Qaiwain. Once again, the excavations brought to light a well-known stone placed directly on the skull of the deceased. It is estimated that the use of the stones during rituals was carried out 5,500 years BC. It is thanks to the use of carbon-14 that scientists were able to determine the precise date of the ritual. On diametrically opposed sites, it was therefore common to observe stones in a funerary context.
In the Persian Gulf region, funerals were accompanied by pearl stones that were delicately placed on the skull of the deceased. The stone’s funeral use continued during the fourth millennium, the only different being that the stones are placed in the palm of the hand. According to the culture of civilization, these stones have always been used throughout history. Around 2,300 B.C., the Chinese civilization appreciated it because it was associated with a gift from nature. Moreover, there have been numerous Chinese inscriptions for ages, going in this direction, as well as many Hindu texts relating to the use of pearl stone because it would confer a privileged link with the god Krishna, who would be at the origin of the discovery of the stone. When we look at the Egyptian civilization, 4000 BC, it is also common to find the use of the mother stone in decoration. The use of these fine stones by the Egyptians dates back to the fifth century B.C., always for decorative purposes, as the stone was associated with purity. The Roman civilization regularly used pearl stones, which were associated with symbols of prestige and wealth, and were intended for noble people with a certain rank in Ancient Rome.
To be able to wear pearl stone, one simply had to deserve it. Greek civilization appreciated the extraordinary beauty of the stones and associated them with happy events such as weddings. Pearl stone was believed to be a very strong sign of love and an essential element. The Arab civilization considered that it had a very strong value. It is, moreover, described in the Koran as one of the most precious treasures coming from Paradise. As the civilization was settled along the Persian Gulf, they had at their disposal numerous oyster beds, allowing them to have an abundance of oysters. In America, the Indians appreciated the freshwater stones, found in abundance in the various rivers and lakes of the region. In fact, it was common to offer pearl stones to an important person. At the time of the French, Spanish and Portuguese colonies, the various research and excavations have shown that the natives carried out a real trade with the pearl stones of their region. After further research, it was revealed that the water stones from the Caribbean, especially from Tahiti, were of a higher quality than those found in Europe, with the advantage of having many deposits. The settlers were also able to appreciate the different pearl stones from the Caribbean Sea, although in abundance until a few centuries ago, the harvests were greatly reduced due to over-consumption and pollution that appeared at the end of the 19th century. Highly valued by ancient civilizations, their value took an important turn when Japanese researchers highlighted, in the late 1800s, different techniques allowing cultivating pearls by growing oysters. Kokichi Mikimoto is the one who has managed to associate his name with history by successfully creating and marketing cultured pearls. He truly revolutionized the history of peals by democratizing its access to the greatest number, while it was formerly reserved for the elite in ancient civilizations. The creation of pearls was facilitated. The largest pearl ever discovered is that of Allah, fished in 1934 off the Philippines. It weighs 6.4 kg. According to the last estimate made in 2006, its value would exceed 60 million dollars, an incredible sum for a natural object! Although it is possible to cultivate oysters to obtain pearls, its market value remains significant.
Produced by certain molluscs such as oysters but also mussels, Pearl stone is a small nacre ball with colours approaching white or grey. Its diameter varies greatly. In order to produce this small and much appreciated stone, an oyster has to be in contact with an irritating object, usually sand or a clot that seeps inside its shell. In order to protect itself, the oyster will naturally secrete nacre to completely cover the intruder. It is on this principle that pearl is formed. But this is a rare process, as the oyster must be irritated by an external object. The shade of the stones varies according to different factors. It is possible to obtain different colours, from white to black, as well as very surprising colours such as green and blue. Depending on the species of mollusc and also on its environment, the shades will be more or less pronounced and will be oriented towards a very particular hue. The secondary colours also called traits are nuances appearing around the basic colour, in the form of a translucent layer. They are not systematically present on the pearls. An optical iridescence phenomenon is thus evoked when one speaks of nacre. Better known under the generalist term of orient, it is related to the appearance of layers of aragonite and the more their number is important, the more this optical phenomenon will be pronounced. There are many other variants of pearl, among the best known being the Tahitian pearl produced in French Polynesia, with a larger size and diameter and rather dark colours. South Sea pearls, freshwater pearls, Keshi or Melo pearls are highly sought after for their rarity and beauty. Depending on the geographical location of the mollusc, the hues and general appearance of the stone will vary.
When the stone has a white surface, it is automatically associated with a sign of purity and spirituality. If, on the other hand, it has shades of beige, then it is associated with a virtue of softness and soothing powers. When white pearl has shades of grey, it has the virtue of discretion and modesty, qualities much sought after in certain ancient civilizations. White pearl with pinkish shades is directly associated with love, tenderness and affection. White pearl with green reflections is much sought after because it naturally calms anxieties and has soothing virtues.
It is very often used for relaxation. When white pearl has shades of blue, it is generally associated with creative and artistic ability. Finally black pearl, contrary to certain preconceived ideas, is meant to be protective and offers a great amount of psychological and physical benefits. It is used in numerous civilizations and can be worn as a piece of jewellery, like a necklace, to have it permanently on you.
The stone offers a relaxing effect with direct contact on decalcification problems. The various virtues associated with the stone need no further demonstration. It is a soft, tender stone associated with the feminine spirit and regularly used for states of sadness and nervousness. In India, people profited to the fullest extent of its multiple physical benefits, mainly to fight against sight and blood disorders. Hindu medicine turned very early to the properties of the stone in order to use it to revive the body’s energy and essential functions. The Maharal of Prague also used the stone in many circumstances, recognizing its associated virtues.