HISTORY OF PEARLS
Pearls are amongst the oldest and most universal of all gems. They are the oldest jewels know to man, and the only gem made by a living animal. The oldest surviving pearl necklace is nearly 2000 years old and was found in the sarcophagus of a Persian Princess. In many countries pearls were worn as a declaration of wealth and power, and also used as a talisman to bring good fortune, to ward off evil spirits and to cure illnesses. Pearls were symbolic of purity, chastity and feminine charm.
Pearls were worn in civilised Middle East and Asian societies as early as 3500 BC., and continued to grow in popularity during Roman times when pearl fever reached its peak. A pearl earring reportedly paid for one Roman general's political campaign, and Roman women were richly covered in pearls. Pearls found a place in Julius Caesar's heart, and Cleopatra dissolved a pearl in wine and drank it to prove her love to Marc Antonius.
Information courtesy of http://www.costellos.com.au/pearls/history.html
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More on the history of pearls tomorrow!