Pearls


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Pearls

 

formations of spherical or irregular shape formed in the bodies of certain mollusks. Pearls consist of the same material as the shells, that is, mainly of calcium carbonate. The formation of a pearl is due to a foreign body (sand particle, parasite) falling into the wall of the mantle or between the mantle and the shell; nacre is then deposited around it.

Pearls are white, rose, yellowish, or sometimes black; their size varies from microscopic to that of a pigeon’s egg. A large and regularly shaped pearl is valued very highly (the largest pearl, weighing 34 carats, is believed to have belonged to the Spanish king Philip II). Pearls are obtained mainly from pearl oysters, whose shells have beautiful mother-of-pearl. Marine pearls are gathered in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf and off the shores of Ceylon, Australia, Japan, and Venezuela. Freshwater pearls have long been gathered in Russia, Scotland, Germany, China, and North American countries.

Because of its decorative properties—its smooth mat surface and soft iridescent sheen—the pearl has long been used by jewelers, often combined with precious stones and metals, to make necklaces, signet rings, brooches, and other jewelry (in India for many centuries before Christ, in Japan probably from the sixth century A.D. , and in Western Europe from the 15th and 16th centuries). In Russia, from the llth and 12th centuries and particularly in the 15th–18th centuries, decorative pearl embroidery was used widely to ornament linen, silk, brocade, and velvet and to beautify articles used in church and the ceremonial dress of the tsar, the nobles and the people.

The fall in natural supply and the great demand for pearls has led, in the 20th century, to their artificial cultivation on a large scale (mainly in Japan). Small mother-of-pearl spheres are inserted into the mantles of marine pearl oysters to serve as the foundations of future pearls.

REFERENCES

Ivanov, A. V. Promyslovye vodnye bespozvonochnye. Moscow, 1955.
lakunina, L. I. Russkoe shit’e zhemchugom. Moscow, 1955.
Zorina, I. P. “Zhemchug.”Priroda, 1967, no. 6.
Hermann, F. Les Gemmes et les perles dans le monde. Paris, 1949.

O. A. SKARLATO

References in classic literature ?
If, when I get to Tahiti, the pearl sells well, I will give you credit for another hundred--that will make three hundred.
It was the Hira, well named, for she was owned by Levy, the German Jew, the greatest pearl buyer of them all, and, as was well known, Hira was the Tahitian god of fishermen and thieves.
There was never a pearl like it in Hikueru, in all the Paumotus, in all the world.
And while Levy and Toriki drank absinthe and chaffered over the pearl, Huru-Huru listened and heard the stupendous price of twenty-five thousand francs agreed upon.
Here, from the fading canvas, smiled Lady Elizabeth Devereux, in her gauze hood, pearl stomacher, and pink slashed sleeves.
How soon -- with what strange rapidity, indeed did Pearl arrive at an age that was capable of social intercourse beyond the mother's ever-ready smile and nonsense-words
Pearl felt the sentiment, and requited it with the bitterest hatred that can be supposed to rankle in a childish bosom.
At home, within and around her mother's cottage, Pearl wanted not a wide and various circle of acquaintance.
But that first object of which Pearl seemed to become aware was -- shall we say it?
Thereupon Raffles prayed to be allowed to smoke one, and, when his prayer was heard, observed that the pearl had been on the table much longer than the cigarettes.
And, in an instant, Raffles had found the right one, had bitten out the bullet, and placed the emperor's pearl with a flourish in the centre of the table.
Put the pearl in the safe, Watson," said he, "and get out the papers of the Conk-Singleton forgery case.