From my earliest memories of my Mother’s delicate neckline outlined by her Victorian natural pearls, the gold infinity closing delicately woven at the stem of soft white rounds, pearls have fascinated me. They possess a rare, timeless beauty that continues to appeal to buyers and collectors globally. My young eyes were charmed and captivated by them during regular visits to Camden Passage, when I accompanied my Father to work as a child.
When you place the band at your neck, the gems respond to your skin immediately. For an object generated by irritation, they express themselves with remarkable grace. The internal defence mechanism that causes the nacre to encase the invasive element creates a unique lustrous glow and harmonious touch. Over several years, nacre wraps its gentle wings around the irritation until the cause of the initial discomfort evolves into an expression of beauty.
As the only gemstone to come from a living creature, they develop in freshwater mussels or unfold from the sea in oysters. Their exquisite quality has been celebrated for thousands of years across all cultures from Ancient Egypt to Ancient Rome. Harvesting the gems involves delicate removal without inflicting harm to the mollusc, so that they continue to produce more pearls in the future. The great precision and care taken ensures a natural bond between object and process.
When the gems are prepared for jewellery, a series of soaking, analysis and grading takes place. Due to their unique individual identity, matching sets of pearls is a time consuming and attentive process requiring sensory expertise. Rushing is impossible and from development to final expression, patience prepares production.
Perhaps it is the depth and patience of these beautiful objects that holds our attention. Each is authentic, has worked to delivery a beautiful truth from a painful irritation by committing to nurturing it daily.
Now, when I unfold the satin coat and lift them up, I find every detail of my Mother’s arches and deep ravines. I place them softly at my own neck and smile to the memory, as their magical touch settles against my skin.