History of Cultured Pearls, Part Two: The South Seas and Tahiti

In the past century, pearls have gone from some of the most expensive and rarest objects to jewelry that many of us can afford.

How this happened and what the future holds is a fascinating story. In part one of our series on cultured pearls we discussed how three Japanese men created techniques to produce the first akoya cultured pearls, which gave birth to the modern cultured pearl industry. Today, we dive into South Sea cultured pearls, Tahitian cultured pearls, and the rise of China as a leading cultured pearl producer.

Ready to set sail and learn about these treasures?

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Emerald Adventures in Afghanistan

Buried deep in the Himalayan foothills of Afghanistan lies a bountiful supply of rich, deep green emerald, and the promise of seeing these beautiful rough gems lured Andy Lucas, GIA manager of Field Gemology in Carlsbad, to this scenic but beleaguered land.

Lucas travels around the world gathering details of the mine to market story for GIA education courses and its scientific publication, Gems & Gemology. And this time, his destination was the remote emerald mines of Panjshir Valley.  The valley’s name means “five lions,” a tribute to five spiritual brothers who once lived there. When he arrived, he found a rugged land with spectacular vistas.

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Ruby Buying Guide

The color of love, anger, passion, fury, vibrant red ruby is July’s birthstone. It makes an ideal romantic gift, not only for those who celebrate July birthdays, but for all women. However, ruby can command the highest per-carat price of any colored gemstone. These stunning red gems are consistently breaking auction records, as demand for ruby continues to rise.

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History of Cultured Pearls – Part 1

Before the development of cultured pearls, only natural pearls were available – and their value was astronomical.

“I’m going to have the most expensive dinner in history,” Cleopatra supposedly boasted to Marc Anthony. She then dissolved a large natural pearl in a goblet of wine and drank it. Then there was the Roman general, Vitellius (15 A.D.-69 A.D.), who sold a natural pearl from one of his mother’s earrings to cover the expenses of a military campaign.

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Meet the Mollusks

A strand of pearls is one of the most glamorous pieces of jewelry a woman can wear, yet these lustrous beauties have humble origins.

Pearls are produced by mollusks – soft-bodied saltwater or freshwater animals possessing one (univalve) or two (bivalve) shells. Mollusks are invertebrates meaning they lack a spine or vertebrae. Scientists estimate there are over 100,000 different species of mollusks in the world’s waters. However, only a few dozen of these species produce pearls and only about half of them are used to produce cultured pearls.

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Lasting Ways to Honor the Graduate with Jewelry

Graduation is a time of celebrating achievement and new beginnings. For such a significant milestone, a gift of fine jewelry will be a lasting reminder of a grad’s accomplishment. If you have a loved one graduating this year, here are a few graduation jewelry gift ideas for the class of 2014.

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