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1 June 2018


Since time began, pearls have been revered for their natural beauty and range of colour and lustre.

Cleopatra dissolved a priceless pearl earring in wine and drank it, to prove to Mark Anthony she could consume the wealth of a nation in one meal. In Ancient Rome pearls were a prized symbol of wealth and social standing. The ancient Greeks associated the pearl with love, marriage and peace. Warriors wore pearls into battle to be shielded from harm.


Pearls over the centuries became highly prized in the royal collections of Europe and amongst the aristocracy and natural supplies world wide were quickly depleted.

In the mid twentieth century pearls were cultivated for the first time making them more affordable for the masses.

South Sea pearls are rarest, prized for their size, sheen and soft, deep, satin like lustre ranging from white through silver to pink, gold and grey.

Tahitian pearls are valued for their dark exotic colours ranging from black to green and blue.

La Peregrina the famous 500 year old pearl from the Spanish royal collection passed to the Bonapartes and then to the Duke of Abercorn, whose family sold it in 1969 to Richard Burton who then gifted it to his wife Elizabeth Taylor. Famously, when missing, La Peregrina was found being chewed by her dog. It was then lent to the Smithsonian and after the owner’s demise fetched $11m in auction.

The Queen famously wears three strands of magnificent pearls for most day occasions. It is rumoured she employs someone to wear the pearls in the Royal collection to prevent the pearls dying. Body warmth and body oils prevent drying out and allow the pearls to retain the lustre for which they are so rightly prized.

Moonstone, with its shimmering, mysterious luminosity is the most romantic of stones and is supposedly comprised, in Hindu mythology, of solidified moonbeams.

If held in the mouth at full moon, a moonstone will bring luck and the ability to foresee the future. It is traditionally a talisman for fertility, love, protection and sleep. It is used for meditation to achieve tranquillity.

Highly favoured in the Art Nouveau era by jewellers René Lalique and Louis Comfort Tiffany, it also gained great popularity during the Arts and Crafts movement in hand crafted jewellery and had a later resurgence of popularity in the 1960s.

Alexandrite, a very rare and mysterious gemstone, was discovered in the Urals in 1830 and named after Tsar Alexander II because its green and red colour matched that of the Imperial Russian military. Under different lighting its colour shifts from green-blue to purple-red.

It is believed to bestow the gift of prophecy. It permits the wearer impartiality and the ability to see clearly and judge fairly both sides of a conflict. It attunes the inner voice and cleanses the humors of the blood to restore mental and physical balance.

The Smithsonian has the largest known faceted 66 carat alexandrite on display in their museum.


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Emma Reeves
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