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 ?
He longed to see the curious table-napkins wrought for the Priest of the Sun, on which were displayed all the dainties and viands that could be wanted for a feast; the mortuary cloth of King Chilperic, with its three hundred golden bees; the fantastic robes that excited the indignation of the Bishop of Pontus and were figured with "lions, panthers, bears, dogs, forests, rocks, hunters--all, in fact, that a painter can copy from nature"; and the coat that Charles of Orleans once wore, on the sleeves of which were embroidered the verses of a song beginning "Madame, je suis tout joyeux," the musical accompaniment of the words being wrought in gold thread, and each note, of square shape in those days, formed with four pearls.
But they would never understand the strange, sweet language that she spoke, or even see the lovely face that smiled at them above the waves; her blue, transparent garments were but water to their eyes, and the pearl chains in her hair but foam and sparkling spray; so, hoping that the sea would be most gentle with them, silently she floated on her way, and left them far behind.
Natasha involuntarily gazed at that neck, those shoulders, and pearls and coiffure, and admired the beauty of the shoulders and the pearls.
Mapuhi might well have sold it for fourteen hundred Chili, but that Levy, who knew pearls, should have paid twenty-five thousand francs was too wide a stretch.
So there came in three Ambassadors with a hundred servants all apparelled in changeable colours; the most of them in silks; the Ambassadors themselves (for at home in their own country they were noble men) in cloth of gold, with great chains of gold, with gold hanging at their ears, with gold rings upon their fingers, with brooches and aglettes* of gold upon their caps, which glistered full of pearls and precious stones; to be short, trimmed and adorned with all those things, which among the Utopians were either the punishment of bondmen, or the reproach of infamed persons, or else trifles for young children to play withall.
Hester could only account for the child's character -- and even then most vaguely and imperfectly -- by recalling what she herself had been during that momentous period while Pearl was imbibing her soul from the spiritual world, and her bodily frame from its material of earth.
The pearl writes quaint countrified little verses, doggerel they are; but somehow or other she always contrives to put in one line, one thought, one image, that shows you she is, quite unconsciously to herself, in possession of the secret.
Yes, gentlemen," said he, "it is the most famous pearl now existing in the world, and it has been my good fortune, by a connected chain of inductive reasoning, to trace it from the Prince of Colonna's bedroom at the Dacre Hotel, where it was lost, to the interior of this, the last of the six busts of Napoleon which were manufactured by Gelder & Co.
From this the Sorceress drew an immense white pearl, attached to a slender chain which she placed around her neck in such a way that the pearl rested upon her bosom, directly over her heart.
The gates of pearl and jasper swung back upon their golden hinges, making the most ravishing music, and the Saint, stepping aside, bowed low, saying:
Bertha Sampson and Pearl Clay of the White Sands Baptist choir had been asked to sing a duet; Milton Clark of Newbridge was to give a violin solo; Winnie Adella Blair of Carmody was to sing a Scotch ballad; and Laura Spencer of Spencervale and Anne Shirley of Avonlea were to recite.
For the gift was a pearl of price unparalleled, picked aforetime by British cutlasses from a Polynesian setting, and presented by British royalty to the sovereign who seized this opportunity of restoring it to its original possessor.