Pearls in History

Pearls in history are mentioned on the obelisk in Ninevah as being brought by the Kings of Chaldea as tribute along with gold and precious stones.

Various Pharohs' gold breastplates and those of their family's were studded with pearls.

Mother of Pearl glistened from friezes of buildings in Egypt and from necklaces.

Face powder consisted of ground up Mother of Pearl.

Egyptian eyeliner, seen on every picture of Egyptian women was made of ground up black pearls from the Red Sea mixed with olive oil.

Egyptians placed pearls and shells on closed eyelids of their dead.

King Solomon was offered gifts of pearls from the Queen of Sheba.

Finest of all pearls in history archaeological finds was a necklace found in the winter palace in a bronze sarcophagas at Shusan in 1901.

It's assumed to have belonged to a Persian princess from the 4th century B.C...Queen Esther maybe...? It contains 72 pearls strung with gold and now is at the Louve in Paris, France.

Pearls in history were popular in Persia in the 4th century B.C. after the Persian conquest of Greece, Egypt and Mesopotamia.

Ancient Kings of Persia commonly wore a pearl dangling from their right ear...we know this from images on coins.

In 48 B.C. after Rome conquered Persia, pearl wearing became wildly popular.

From ancient paintings of women, we know that a ring was put into their left nostril and three pearls hung from this ring.

Eventually, two bands of pearls on a broad piece of ribbon worn on a head piece signified royality and was used for kings' head wreaths. Still today, it is customary to have two rows of pearls on the crowns of royality, as Queen Elizabeth's crown, for example.

We generally associate pearls in history with royalty...and rightly so, although in our modern times, we feel just as free to wear our pearls with blue jeans as a wedding dress. More stories about pearls in history... A personification of the pearl, Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty, was said to have "sprung from the foam of the sea.

It's reported that pearls in history were thrown on the temple floors much like we would strew rose petals, before the time of Christ.

Cleopatra is famous for an episode with a pearl when she reportedly made a wager with Mark Anthony that she could serve the most expensive banquet ever.

The plates were empty...with only wine in the glasses. BUT, she had pulverized one of her extremely valuable pearl earrings into that wine and offered it to Anthony. He refused, saying she had won the wager.

A matched set of natural pearls in history quadrupled the value of one...not just doubled it. So when Cleopatra drank her pearl, the remaining one lost most of it's value.

Pearls were often dissolved and drunk as medicine in ancient days. Julius Ceasar wore a crown with a pearl diadem.

An emperor, Caligula, wore a pearl necklace on his forehead.

Nero must have loved pearls. His throne, scepter, and crown were all covered with pearls.

Ambassador, Philo wrote: "Couches upon which Romans reclined were...splendid with purple coverings interwoven with gold and pearls."

The Jewish book of law, the Talmud, mentions pearls in history:

The coats God made for Adam and Eve were as beautiful as pearls.

Manna from heaven was "as white as a pearl."

There was a "pearl that has no price."

The New Testament, mentions pearls both allagorically and naturally:

Matthew 13:45,46 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is as a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it."

Matthew 7:6 "Do not give what is holy to the dogs: nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces."

Revelation 21:21 "The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass."

Pearls in History -- Early American History

The following is a quote from a copy of book written in 1590 called, "A Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia". The book was dedicated to Sir Walter Raleigh.

NOTE: The wording and spelling is strange to us.

This Section was called: "The First Part, of marchantable commodities."


"Sometimes in feeding on muscles wee found some pearle; but it was our hap to meete with ragges, or of a pide colour; not having yet discovered those places where wee heard of better and more plentie. One of our companie; a man of skill in such matters, had gathered to gether from among the sauage of people aboute five thousande; of which number he chose so many as made a fine chaine, which for their likenesse and uniformitie in roundnesse, orientnesse, and pidenesse of many excellent colours, with equalitie in greatnesse; were verie fayre and rare; and had therefore beene prsented to her Maiestie, had wee not by casualtie and trough extremity of a storme, lost them with many things els in comming away from the countrey."

NOTE: Her Maiestie (Majesty) Queen Elizabeth (1533-1603) would certainly do some moaning after hearing of the loss of this natural pearl necklace from the Americas. This lady LOVED pearls! See some photos here of her wearing several long ropes of pearls, which was her everday habit."

More about Natural Pearls in History.

Special thanks to Joan Younger Dickinson for her book, THE BOOK OF PEARLS--which provided me with some of this information.

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