Back to Back Issues Page
Pearl Hunter - Rosenthal - Highlights of His Autobiography
February 20, 2020

The Pearl Hunter
Leonard Rosenthal

Have you read this book? The Pearl Hunter by Leonard Rosenthal?

It's an old book, published in 1952 and a true delight to anyone interested in natural pearls. It's his autobiography of how he acquired enough capital to enter the pearl market in the 1890's.

He saw his first pearl as a penniless immigrant boy in Paris. In less than twenty years he won the world monopoly of the pearl trade for France. Some of the world's most precious pearls passed through his hands.

In Rosenthal's earlier career, he dealt only in Oriental pearls. In 1913 he sued the people who were flooding the European market with artificially produced pearls. As a result of that suit, the appellation "cultured pearl" became obligatory.

Here are a few highlights from his entertaining book.

Chapter 1

"One morning, in the year 1930, the Bank of France announced that the expansion taken by the commerce in cultured pearls made it impossible thenceforth to accord the usual credit to dealers in Oriental pearls or to discount their drafts...

That very evening, the value of Oriental pearls diminished by 85 per cent. Their sale was virtually halted for many years and France ceased to have the world monopoly in pearls."

Kari's note: Fortunately we are seeing a reverse of this. A few weeks ago I was in Palm Beach, Florida and there a gemologist told me that recently a lady wanted to sell a cultured South Sea pearl necklace for which she had paid a whopping $200,000. He could only offer her $2,000. Its value had dropped that much.

Chapter 3

"My father gave me, with his benediction, a one hundred franc note--and a blanket. Thus equipped, all I had to do was go out and conquer the world."

Chapter 4

"It was not until the first years of this century (20th) that I sold my first pearls.

After a day of pedaling my bicycle and buying gems in all parts of Paris, I would arrive in the evening, my pockets stuffed full of pearls."

Chapter 13

"After World War I, it was suggested that I purchase the crown jewels of Austria. Later on, Soviet Russia, in search of funds, decided to put on sale the major part of the jewels that had belonged to Catherine the Great and my firm was asked to evaluate them. Successively, the Sultan of Turkey and the Shah of Persia brought us pearls, jewels, or stones which they wanted to turn into ready cash. The capital thus obtained was usually employed in the construction of railway lines or in the creation of a State Bank"

Chapter 18

"The jeweler's craft is a very old one--as old as civilization. The craftsman in pearls is not only practicing an ancient art, but he is handling a substance especially precious and mysterious, and he always seems to approach his work with something like reverence. For, as the ancient Persians realized, the pearl is in a category of gems by itself and can only be classed with things like tears and laughter, roses and gold."

So, there are a few tidbits of this wonderful autobiography.

I've been having so much fun adding gemstones to my natural pearl jewelry and sometimes I realize that even the gemstones themselves make for lovely pieces so I'm offering here this citrine set with sterling silver on a first come, first served basis.

I only have one of these.

You may purchase it directly here on the "Buy Now" button.

Price is $95 - free shipping

Thanks for being a part of my newsletter where I'm happy to give pearl news and offer unique items.

God bless, Kari

Back to Back Issues Page