Long known as the 'Queen of Gems' natural Pearls were once the "exclusive domain" of the rich and powerful, of royalty! From ancient antiquity we have the story of Cleopatra, who, on challenging Mark Anthony to a "demonstration feast" to show "which empire was the greatest" (Egypt or Rome) she dissolved a Pearl in a glass of wine vinegar and drank it. It is reported that Mark Anthony conceded the challenge before Cleopatra had a chance to dissolve another Pearl for him to drink.
The 1st Century historian Pliny the Elder tells of a Roman General who had a war funded by his mother's Pearl collection! (which in today's terms would equate to millions of dollars)
The first mention of Pearls in history comes from the oldest book in the Bible, the Book of Job (28:18) "The acquisition of wisdom is above that of Pearls." It's as though Job is saying..."Pearls are the most valuable, most sought after gem on earth...but wisdom is even more precious". Or maybe he was saying 'wise men and women buy Pearls?'
Then there is the famous parable that came from Jesus: "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine Pearls and upon finding one Pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it". A reference again to the incredible value of Pearls as a treasure, basically saying that it is worth selling everything that you have to buy a top "gem" Pearl. Pearls are so highly esteemed in the Bible there is actually a description of the gates of heaven as being made of Pearl! "And the twelve gates were twelve Pearls; each one of the gates was a single Pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass." Revelation 21:21
The history, mystique and wonder surrounding the never-ending search for Pearls has filled our history books with wondrous tales.
Marco Polo tells fascinating stories of tribal Pearl farming in the South Pacific. He describes "fish-charming sharmen" who are able to stop the sharks from attacking a nation of Pearl diving tribesmen who served a king who walked around wearing absolutely nothing except a collection of absolutely perfect Pearl strands.
Marco Polo’s “Land of Serpents and Pearls” in 1291 AD describes Pearl Diving in a remote region named Maabar and an Island in the South Pacific named “Betala” Marco Polo’s famous diary “Travels in the Land of Serpents and Pearls” describes the following:
"The men dive into the water, descending up to 12 paces (9 metres), when they reach the seabed they find a type of shellfish called sea oysters, and, when they can hold out no longer they bring them to the surface in little net bags tied to their bodies. The shells are split open and put into tubs of water carried on the ships. In these Oysters are found Pearls, both big and small and of every variety. The Pearls found from this gulf (in the South Pacific) are exported throughout the world as they are mostly round and lustrous. The King receives a substantial duty from this trade of one Pearl in 20 and wears around his neck a thin silk cord than hangs down his chest and on this cord are strung very large and immensely valuable fine Pearls."
Antonio Pigafetta documented these in his journal as early as 1521. As: “One of a number of large clam species native to the shallow coral reefs of the South Pacific oceans, they can weigh more than 200 kilograms (440 lb), measure as much as 120 cm (47 in) across, and have an average lifespan in the wild of over 100 years”.
It is therefore no surprise that the overwhelming majority of royal historical portraits display royalty in every historical age wearing Pearls. From the Romanovs to ‘Rockstar Royals’, Pearls have adorned the majority of royal portraits for over 1000 years.
More recently British royals from Queen Mary, through the reign of Victoria to our current Queen Elizabeth 1 of England have worn, displayed and championed this most impressive of status symbols!
In the 1920’s one man desired to change this. Mikemoto had a dream that “every woman on earth could afford a pearl”. What we are ‘living’ today in even being able to discuss individual ownership of South Sea and fine freshwater Pearl strands is because of this one man.
Mikemoto pioneered the “culturing” process. The act of inserting an irritant into the gonad (sex organ) of the host oyster on a commercial scale was his life’s mission. He succeeded and took his “Cultured Pearls” to the U.S.A where they were a “hit”.
The traditional, uber-exclusive ‘natural Pearl’ industry was threatened by this foreign upstart and took Mikemoto to the Supreme Court alleging that “cultured Pearls should not be allowed, that they were fake, and, should NOT be called Pearls at all!”
After a massive and much publicised case Mikemoto won and the legal case that had actually been intended to ‘shut-down’ his dream ended up legitimising it, vindicating Mikemoto with an internationally recognised Supreme Court decision that stated that a Cultured Pearl was every but as valid as a naturally occurring one.
Hollywood “royalty” such as Greta, Garbo, Marliene Dietrich, Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe then jumped on the tsunami of interest generated by the cultured pearl and for the next 40 years “Mikemoto Pearls” became a worldwide phenomenon and Mr Mikemoto died with his dream being fulfilled.
More recently “Hollywood Royals” such as Jaqueline Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor ($11M La Peregrina) and Barbara Bush have added to the mystique and attraction of this fabulous gem further establishing them as a “must have” item in a woman’s jewellery ensemble.
In 1969, Richard Burton outbid Prince Alfonso de Bourbon Asturias by spending $37,000 to buy Elizabeth Taylor La Peregrina, a stunning pear shaped pearl, for her thirty-seventh birthday. This famous pearl recently sold for $11.8 million at auction.
In 1967 Jack Musgrave Blaiklock arrived from New Zealand. At the time, his son Graeme was looking for something to do and when Jack asked him to team up and go “on the road” selling jewellery, Graeme said yes.
In the 1970’s Graeme ‘cut his teeth’ as a highly successful wholesale sales representative. Many of the principles and strategies employed by Australian Pearl Divers began there.
In 1992 Australian Pearl Divers was finally registered and established as a leading “Vertically Integrated” Australian Pearl purveyor, bypassing all of the middle men in providing Pearls directly from the farm and drilling, designing and setting from the Sydney factory workshop.
Today Australian Pearl Divers is an internationally recognised brand with customers from almost every Nation on earth! Ranked as the “Trip Advisor” #1 place to shop in Sydney an international team are now sharing their genuine love and appreciation for this incredible gemstone with you!
Since the new millennium dawned 2000 Australian Pearl Divers have been honoured to provide an incredible array of Australian South Sea pearls to the British royal families.
A Stunning brooch provided for HRH Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall, a pair of incredible South Sea Pearl Cufflinks for HRH Prince William and an amazing South Sea Pendant set with sapphires in a “Southern Cross” display for HRH Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge.
Since the new millennium dawned 2000 Australian Pearl Divers have been honoured to provide an incredible array of Australian South Sea Pearls to the British royal families. Today Australian Pearl Divers are now presenting “the Most Affordable South Sea Pearls in the World” so anyone can afford a “Barbara Bush, Michelle Obama or Princess Kate strand! Cut from the largest South Sea clam species on earth and guaranteed for life against being damaged by perfumes and makeup.