Pearls are unique amongst gemstones, as they don’t arise from the depths of the earth but from the sea. They require no special cutting or polishing to maximize their luxurious beauty. Pearls have been a treasured in our history, which has ensured that pearl jewelry is always in style.

Always utilized in jewelry at least as far back as ancient Greece pearls has always been one of the most valuable gems. In many ancient societies pearls symbolized the moon and were thought to have magical properties. Ancient Chinese civilizations believed that wearing pearls protected a person from fire; dragons while other cultures associated them with chastity and modesty. In Victorian England, small seed pears were often used in mourning jewelry to symbolize tears.

Ironically, many years after the Victoria era, pearls were worn this week to mourn the passing of former First Lady Barbara Bush at the age of 92.

In the late 1980’s, the fashion industry did not expected much from Mrs. Bush in the way of setting style trends. However, many were surprised, as she quickly became known for her ever-constant pearls around her neck and her projected image of grandmother, not glamazon.

When Mrs. Bush wore simulated pearls (faux) on Inauguration Day, American women around our nation dusted off their old strands languishing in their jewelry boxes. The pearls she wore that day were faux – large, 12-millimeter glass beads. Kenneth Jay Lane, a New York designer that died last year at the age of 85, designed the necklace. At the time, the necklace was valued at $600. If they were real, Lane estimated the cost to have been around $200,000.

According to many, Mrs. Bush found it quite humorous that people around the world as a style icon suddenly embraced her. The truth is that she often joked that the pearls were originally worn to cover her wrinkles.

First ladies all the way back to Martha Washington have worn pearls. Abraham Lincoln gave his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, a set of seed pearl jewelry from Tiffany and Co. to celebrate his first inauguration. Michelle Obama wore pearls in both of her official White House portraits.

Mrs. Bush donated her inauguration gown and famous pearl necklace to the Smithsonian Institution in 1990.

David Brown
Mulberry Seed Design