Freshwater Pearl Beads
From the Victorian age, right through the 1950's and into the present, chic clothing with long strands of pearls has been a favorite look for women. What woman today doesn't remember her mother or grandmother without at least one string of lovely cream colored pearls? If the thought of these beautiful water-borne gems also conjures images for you of ladies in perfectly tailored Chanel suits, or elegantly refined Duponi silk dresses, you are not alone.
Today's freshwater pearls are a step above the cultured freshwater pearls of past generations. For one, a much larger range of colors and styles are available to today's jewelry enthusiast and artisan than ever before. All colors of the spectrum are available to the designer looking to create with pearls; from the ubiquitous white, coveted by our ancestors, through to the rainbow of yellows, pinks, blues, violets, pinks, greens, grays, golds and even black, that are available at affordable prices today.
The history of pearl cultivation is a long and interesting one, with different colors and qualities of pearls coming, at various times, from all different parts of the world. Japanese pearl farmers made great strides in the art of cultivation using the triangle shell mussel (Hyriopsis cumingii) and their pearls were a quality improvement over the cultured freshwater pearls of the 1970s and 1980s (Rice Krispie pearls).
Presently and at various times throughout history, pearl cultivation has been a major factor in the economies of Japan, India, South Korea, Vietnam, Mexico, Polynesia, New Zealand, Australia, the Philippines and the USA. A variety of both salt and freshwater mussels, oysters and clams have been used for pearl production over the years but today the world leader in cultured freshwater pearls is China. Historically Chinese freshwater pearl cultivation dates from at least the 13th century, but even as far back as 2206 BC the Chinese had a fondness for pearls, as revealed in one of their ancient texts.
In the golden age of the Greeks, naturally occurring pearls were highly prized and only available to members of the ruling class, or only to vary wealthy individuals. During Caesar's time and during the period of the Holy Roman empire, kings, queens, princes and princesses, wore lustrous strand of pearls around their necks, in their hair, or embroidered onto their clothing. The Imperial crown of the Holy Roman Empire, a spectacular item that dates from the late 10th century AD, is encrusted with sparkling jewels in various colors, and also features many lavishly-set, gold-encased pearls. Renderings of magnificent pearl jewelry can still be seen today in the centuries old drawings and painted scrolls of China and in the oil paintings of the Renaissance Masters.
Thankfully today, new methods of pearl cultivation has given rise to even greater choices on offer when designing with pearl beads. Tiny seed pearls to heavy hanks of coin shaped pearl beads are easily obtainable at House of Gems. Additionally, our intriguing and irregular shaped Biwa pearls, will lend a regal feel to your next jewelry project. Wrap your wrists in what was once the favorite accoutrement of kings, or wear stunning pearl drop earrings with movie star pizazz. Paired up with luminous picks from our fantastic selection of wholesale beads, it's difficult to go wrong when creating with House of Gems treasures!