As Independence Day is approaching, we decided to delve into our history to see what we can learn from our ancestors. This story of an unlikely friendship inspired us, and we decided to share with you. It’s the story of a Native American woman and a European-American settler who forged a bond at a time of war.
Nancy (Nanye’hi) Ward: Beloved Woman (1738-1822)
Seventeen-year-old Nanye’hi followed her husband, Kingfisher, into the Battle of Taliwa in 1755. A brave and formidable woman, she had no idea that she would make the history books because of the choices she made during that battle.
Nanye’hi was born in Chota, the capital of the Cherokee tribe, now called Monroe County, Tennessee. She was a member of the Wolf Clan and came from an important family – her uncle was the famous Chief Attakullakulla. Nanye’hi married a Cherokee warrior, Tsu-la, which means Kingfisher. During the 1755 battle between the Cherokee and the Muslogee (Creek Indians) about 500 Cherokee warriors stood against about 1,000 Creek warriors. Nancy’s job was to chew the lead bullet points for her husband, which made these bullets more deadly. When Kingfisher was killed in battle, she took up his rifle and continued to fight. The battle was fierce and the Cherokee was on the losing side. They started to retreat. But Nahye’hi, anger and adrenaline pumping through her veins, rallied the Cherokee warriors and lead a charge that ended the battle and brought victory to the Cherokee.
Because of Nanye’hi’s bravery and leadership, she was given the title of Ghighau – Beloved Woman – which made her one of the most powerful women in the tribe. She had the right to speak, vote, and she also had complete power over prisoners.
During the late 1750s, the British colonists built Fort Loudon, which became a trading post to improve trade relations between the Cherokee and the settlers. Relations between them were cordial, and many Cherokee women married European-American settlers.
A few years after Kingfisher’s death, Nanye’hi married Bryant Ward, an English trader who was already married to a European woman who lived in South Carolina. Nanye’hi changed her name to Nancy Ward and learned to speak English. She and Bryant had a daughter, Betsy, and Bryant lived with them for several years. He later left to live with his European wife and children again, but he and Nancy often visited each other.
The more Nancy got to know the settlers, the more she believed that the best way for the Cherokee to survive was if they could co-exist peacefully with the settlers.
The War of Independence
During the French and Indian War, the Cherokee sided with the British against the French. When the Americans declared independence in 1775, the Cherokee still supported the British. The British capitalized on this relationship and encouraged the Cherokee to attack the American settlements.
Many of the Cherokee were not happy that the settlers were encroaching on their territory, so they were all too happy to take up arms against them. However, Nancy decided to side with the Americans instead. When some of the leaders of her tribe, lead by her brother, Dragging Canoe, were conspiring to attack the nearby settlements in July 1776, Nancy tipped off a white trader who then delivered the news to the nearby settlements. This helped many settlers to flee or prepare to fight in time.
However, Lydia Bean wasn’t so lucky. Together with the 13-year-old Samual Moore, Lydia was captured by the Cherokees while they were trying to make their way to Fort Watauga. Samual was burned at the stake, and Lydia was about to suffer from the same fate when Nancy intervened.
Lydia Russel Bean: Brave and Loyal (1726-1788)
Lydia Bean was married to William Bean. They had 9 children together, and their son, Russel, was the first white child born on Tennessee soil.
When Lydia was captured, she was taken to a Cherokee camp on the Nolichucky River where they tried to extract information from her about her people. They wanted to know where the fort was, how many men there were, and whether they had enough food. She misled them to think that there were many men and that they were well supplied and able to fight off any kind of attack.
She was then taken to Toquo where she was tied to a stake on top of a large mound. The stake was already lit by the time Nancy arrived. She scattered to put out the fire and cut Lydia free.
Exercising her right to spare condemned prisoners, she ordered that Lydia be set free.
Trading Skills and an Unlikely Friendship
Nancy took Lydia home and nursed her back to health. In return, Lydia taught Nancy and her family how to make butter and cheese – a welcome skill that could give nourishment to the Cherokee when they had a bad hunting season. Lydia was able to go back home and rescue two of her dairy cows which she gave to Nancy.
At the time, the Cherokee wore a combination of animal hide clothing and loomed cloth purchased from the traders. They also made their own rough-woven hemp clothing, which was very uncomfortable. Lydia taught them how to weave cloth from linen, cotton, and wool.
This made the Cherokee less dependent on traders, but it also changed their way of life. Previously, the Cherokee had a communal agricultural and hunting society, but over time they started to adopt a more European-American society with family plots – and a need for more labor. Not only did they need more land for cattle to graze, they also started to buy and sell slaves. In fact, Nancy was one of the first Cherokee to own black slaves.
When it was safe for Lydia to return, Nancy sent her home. But by that time, the two women have forged a lasting friendship.
After the war, Nancy helped to negotiate peace with the new United States.
Celebrating Friendships: An Independence Day Tradition
Nancy and Lydia showed us that, even when times are tough, nothing keeps us from making friends and building relationships. There are many accounts of Native Americans who gifted the settlers with pearl jewelry when they negotiated trade or land agreements. But Lydia and Nancy exchanged something a lot more valuable – they traded favors and skills that not only saved lives, but also changed it completely.
You may not have a friend whose life you saved, or who saved your life, but every friendship is special and worth celebrating. Why don’t you celebrate this Independence Day with a pearl jewelry gift for a special friend? Visit our shop to find pearl jewelry your girlfriends would love.
This is the thirteenth chapter in the story of Alexis, her ancestors, and the heirloom pearl necklace that are handed down from one generation to the next. If you haven’t read the previous chapters yet, click here.
Alexis frowns. Her mother is standing at her front door.
“What are you doing here?”
“Well, that’s a way to greet your mother! I’m here to take you out for coffee.”
Alexis suppresses a sigh. This is not how she was planning to spend her Saturday. Holed up in bed was more like it, but her mother doesn’t have to know that.
“Okay. Come in. I have to get dressed.”
“Yes, I’ll say,” Leah mutters. Alexis’ mother is tall, like her, with sandy blond hair that has gone grey by now, and watery blue eyes. She holds her handbag like the queen, and she always wears a skirt and practical, low heels. A summer coat is draped perfectly over one arm. It would be easy to mistake her for someone stern, but in fact, she has a heart of butter, and it’s exactly that soft heart that Alexis is scared of this morning. She doesn’t argue when her mother points to the wooden box she keeps her pearls in. She puts them on, avoiding her own eyes in the mirror. Around her mother’s neck hangs a large, shimmering white teardrop-shaped pearl, and Leah is fiddling with it – a bad sign.
“What’s up, mom?” Alexis asks once they’re finally settled at an outdoor table overlooking a large garden. She clutches her large Americano, steeling for what’s to come.
Her mother fixes her with a stare. “You’ve been engaged for almost two years.”
Alexis sighs. “And?”
“And I know why you’re stalling. You’re scared.”
Alexis would have rolled her eyes if it wasn’t true. Instead, she can feel her eyes well up. Her mom reaches for her hand. “Honey, it’s good to be scared. It’s not a small thing to get married. It’s a decision for life.”
“But what if it’s the wrong one?” Alexis squeaks through her tears. “What if we split up the way you and Dad did?”
Leah sits up straight. “Look at me. Do you know why we split up?”
Alexis takes a gulp of coffee. It burns going down. She doesn’t meet her mother’s eyes. “Yes, Mom, you’ve told me. You grew apart.”
“It’s not as simple as that. We married for the wrong reasons. We married too quickly. We barely knew each other. But grandma and grandpa believed in true love and edged us on. Grandma wanted a granddaughter. She thought I was getting too involved with my work. There are so many reasons – and none of them relates to you and Max.”
“But how do I know? What if there are other things? What if there’s something I’ve missed?”
Leah sighs. “You don’t.”
Alexis frowns. “Well, that doesn’t help!”
“Honey, life has no guarantees. Anything could happen. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take chances or make commitments. We work with what we’ve got. You and Max have known each other for a few years now. You’ve gone on holidays. You’ve met his entire family. You have a dog together! You have a strong foundation. And what’s more, you have those.” She points to the pearls around Alexis’s neck.
“You know those pearls are more than just pearls. They’ve come along centuries of family, passed from woman to woman. They come with that stack of letters from grandma. And they come with the knowledge that even though there are no guarantees, there is wisdom and support. You are never alone. And you are strong.”
Alexis takes a deep breath, then another sip of coffee. She lifts her chin and meets her mother’s eyes. “Okay.”
“Okay. I’ll talk to Max about a date. How do you feel about a winter wonderland wedding?”
Leah smiles and picks up her cup. “That’s my girl.”
Do you have a string of heirloom pearls in your family to pass on? It’s a lovely way to celebrate the wisdom and love that gets passed from grandparents and parents to their children. Browse our shop for the perfect string of heirloom pearls.
On a spring day in 2002, the streets of Mountain Lake Town, a small town in Zhuji City, Zhejiang Province in China, was filled with incense-burning mourners and hero worshippers. They were mourning the death of Xiaofa He, who died in a car accident on May 8, 2002. Eight buses and more than 200 cars carried thousands of people to town to see Xiaofa He off to his next life.
Why would so many people mourn the death of an ordinary pearl farmer who is mainly unknown outside of the pearl industry?
That’s what this story is about. It’s about how one person impacted the lives of many and saved a whole town from financial destruction, earning him the title of the “spirit of pearls” and elevating him to idol status in the Zhuji City region.
The Legacy of Xiaofa He
If you walk into town today, 17 years after his death, you will hear stories of Xiaofa He from almost every villager you talk to. Stories of how he was always willing to lend money to people in need. It is said that he never refused a loan request from anybody, no matter how large the amount needed.
You’ll hear stories about how an illiterate man – who could only write his own name – never paid a bill one day late. When asked how he did that, even though he couldn’t read, he said he memorized everything and never forgot about his debts.
He was once asked by an official how he knew what to order in a restaurant if he couldn’t read the menu. He said that he understood numbers and the more expensive the dish, the better the dish should be, so he definitely couldn’t go wrong. And, if there were photos on the menu, even better; he knows how a lobster looks.
Xiaofa’s personal motto was “Giving small begets small, but giving big begets bigger.”
And this was never truer than when the townspeople and pearl farmers faced an economic crisis that threatened to cripple them – from which they may never have recovered if it wasn’t for Xiaofa.
A Financial Crisis
Between 1998 and 2000, Southeast Asia was plunged into a financial crisis. As luxury goods are always last on the to-buy list, pearl consumers tightened their purses. Not only that, the market was flooded with second-hand pearls as their previous owners needed money to keep their own heads above water.
The demand for pearls decreased. With too much product and too little demand for it, the trading volume of the Mountain Lake Town fell overnight. No-one was buying pearls.
Unstable markets are great for speculators. In stable times, all parties involved in the supply chain are rewarded fairly for their contribution, but during a financial crisis, it’s the speculators that smile all the way to the bank.
As farmers needed money for food, clothes, and school fees, they became desperate. But even worse, within the local supply chain, there are normally a lot of credit transactions. With no pearl sales, not only were farmers pressured to make ends meet on a basic level, but they also had debts that they couldn’t pay, which affected the whole town.
The more desperate they became, the lower the prices pearls farmers were willing to accept for their pearls.
A Small Chinese Town’s Credit Chain
To understand the effects of debt in a rural community, you have to understand Chinese culture and the way the credit chain works in a small town.
Under normal circumstances, credit transactions are not a problem – it is, in fact, the norm. In a small town where everyone knows each other, you have to keep to your credit agreements if you wanted to stay in business. News travels fast and trust is one of the highest qualities in Chinese culture. For that reason, everybody pays their debt on time. Not keeping to their repayment agreements is almost unthinkable.
But by 1999, the cash flow in town dried up. With no-one buying pearls, the local pearl wholesalers couldn’t pay farmers or even buy new products. Farmers couldn’t pay their debts, which in turn affected the whole town. To make it even worse, the three biggest pearl wholesalers in town packed up and left town almost overnight.
A Worsening Situation
Back to the speculators; this crisis benefited them nicely. Even when the market started to recover and consumers were starting to buy pearl jewelry again, the big-city and international wholesalers decided to hold off on buying from the farmers and local wholesalers.
They still had some stock left, so there was no urgency to buy new stock.
In the meantime, the situation in town worsened. Pearl farmers were becoming more desperate and were lowering their prices more and more – pearl prices fell to half their original asking prices.
This was exactly the situation the speculators were hoping for. The longer they could hold out, the lower the prices would get and the bigger the profits they could make.
The town came to a standstill. People began to panic. Some considered packing up and leaving their debts behind – a clad on their name they’d have to live with for the rest of their lives and for which they may even face jail time.
But still, no help was coming from the big wholesalers.
Xiaofa He to the Rescue
Not the type to turn a blind eye, Xiaofa He started to buy pearls from farmers. He spent 1 billion Chinese Yuan (about USD 145 million) in cash to buy up the town’s pearl product.
Mr. He started his first pearl farm at an early age. By the time the financial crisis hit, he was already the richest man in town. He owned three companies: pearl farming operations, a pearl trading company, and a pearl processing factory with more than 600 employees. His pearl breeding areas stretched over 30,000 acres and was located in Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Hubei, Hunan, and Fujian.
As money was pumped into the town again, panic was starting to fade. Everybody could pay their debts again, buy food, and take care of their kids’ school fees. The town’s economy was restored, and everything went back to normal.
Before the financial crisis, the farmers were comfortable. There was always enough demand for the pearls they could supply. They were extremely hard-working and produced high-quality pearls, but they never planned for unexpected situations. After the financial crisis, they learned that they should not over-produce and that they should diversify their investments.
The only ‘losers’ in this story was the speculators. They were waiting for a big payday, but instead, they had to pay normal prices and lost out on profits they could have had, had they played nicely.
We all love a good story where the good guys win and the bad guys are left with their tails between their legs. For the town of Mountain Lake, their story could have turned out very differently if it wasn’t for Xiaofa He.
Now you understand why thousands of people filled the streets to mourn and worship ‘the spirit of pearls’, and still talk about him every day.
When One Story Ends, a New One Begins
Xiaofa He’s story did not end when he passed away. After his death, his wife Xiaying Chen took over the business. A great innovator, she took the business to a whole new level.
Mrs. Chen started to develop pearls for the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry. She registered the “Pure Pearl” trademark, and the company was listed on the SME board of the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in 2007, five years after the death of her husband.
The company was the first pearl enterprise to be listed on the stock exchange in China. They also developed “anti-corrosion and anti-aging pearl processing technology” which introduced modern nanotechnology and polymerization technology into pearl processing operations for the first time.
Xiaying Chen – a leader and respected entrepreneur in her own right – may not have achieved these great heights for the company if it wasn’t for Xiaofa He’s example.
If you listen closely, you can still hear the echo of Xiaofa’s words in the halls of the Pure Pearl Group: Small begets small, and big begets bigger.
Why do we wear jewelry? Usually, it’s because we like how it makes us look and feel – beautiful and confident. That’s not the only reason, though. Often times there’s a much deeper meaning to why we choose to beautify our outfits with jewelry.
Why Our Ancestors Donned Jewelry
For almost 75,000 years, humans adorned themselves with jewelry for different reasons.
Jewelry was often worn by emperors, pharaohs, kings, and queens as a symbol of status, wealth, and power. Only the rich could afford valuable gems and metals like pearls, diamonds, gold, silver, and other precious stones. However, that didn’t keep the less fortunate from embellishing themselves: Throughout the ages, people often created jewelry from leather, wood, shells, seeds, feathers, and other beautiful items they could lay their hands on.
Jewelry was also believed to have supernatural and healing powers. One such example is the ancient Egyptians. A favorite, the Eye of Horus with a green or turquoise stone set as the pupil, represented protection and health.
Evil eye jewelry and talismans, which was first recorded about 5,000 years ago by the Mesopotamians, was believed to protect the wearer from evil forces. This symbol is found in Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu cultures.
The sapphire was priced as a sacred stone by the ancient Greeks who often wore this magnificent stone when seeking guidance from the Oracle of Delphi. Sapphires were also believed to promote wisdom and spiritual truth.
The Deeper Meaning of Jewelry
Today, jewelry is still symbolic to us. An infinity sign depicts everlasting love, and jewelry are often worn as a symbol of faith, like a cross to Christianity or yin-yang to Buddhists.
We also wear jewelry as a way to express ourselves or to make a statement. With so many different designs and materials to choose from, we select something that we like, although we often can’t exactly explain why we like it.
We collect jewelry from our travels to remind us of the good times we’ve had and the people we’ve met along the way.
Jewelry often has personal significance, like the heirloom pearl necklace your Grandma gave you or a wedding ring passed down from one generation to the next. But jewelry doesn’t have to be passed down from a relative to have personal significance. A bracelet a husband bought for his wife or wedding jewelry you bought for yourself are representations of the love we have for each other.
Similarly, graduation jewelry is a symbol of our achievements and the endurance we had for sticking to our commitments even through difficult times.
Graduation Jewelry: A Testament to Your Achievements
Graduation Day is a significant milestone in many young women’s lives. Why don’t you choose pearl jewelry to stand testament to your achievements this year?
Visit our shop to find pearl jewelry to your taste to complete your outfit and to act as a reminder of what you’ve achieved.
If there’s a jewel that embodies a mother’s love for her child, it’s the pearl. Not only are pearls associated with femininity and divine love, but the very way in which a pearl is formed is reminiscent of the way a baby is formed in a mother’s womb. Mother’s Day is around the corner, so why not show her your appreciation with a pearl gift?
Here are a few things that make pearls the perfect gift for mom.
The Symbol of a Mother’s Love
Since antiquity pearls have been associated with selfless love. An oyster puts all of its energy into shaping a pearl by adding layers of tissue called nacre onto the grain of sand or bead embedded in the shell. This takes months, and one can’t help but be reminded of the way a baby is formed in a womb. Like in the womb, an oyster shell uses its own nutrients to ‘feed’ the pearl until it has turned into something truly beautiful. Just like a mother pours her energy into a child from the day they are born so that the child can emerge as a healthy, happy adult – a real gem.
Patience and Wisdom
The process an oyster goes through to shape a pearl also symbolizes the strife one has to go through in life in order to gain wisdom, which is where the expression ‘pearls of wisdom’ come from. And if there’s a job in the world that will see to it that you gain wisdom, being a mother is it. Just think of the pearls of wisdom your mother has dispensed to you over the years.
Another expression or common truth that comes to mind is the one that says ‘patience will be rewarded’. Much like raising a child: through time and patience, something magnificent emerges.
Femininity and Divine Love
In the Renaissance artist Botticelli’s famous painting, The Birth of Venus, the goddess of love – Venus – is carried ashore in a clam shell as if she was born like a pearl. Venus is seen as the very symbol of femininity and divine love. The fact that pearls are ‘born’ in water, where oysters, clams, and mussels live, also resembles the womb, where children are carried in water until they are born, and further enforces pearls as a symbol of femininity and fertility.
No woman is ever as beautiful as your own mom. She is the first face you see when you are born, and the face most children get to know the best in life. While she may be unattractive to others, her children will always see her for the beautiful woman she is, because they can see her heart. And that is just one of the things that make the love between a mother and her children something beautiful and strong, that grows bigger over time, just like a pearl.
Why not treat your mom to a string of pearls or a set of pearl earrings that will let her beautiful mother’s heart shine? Visit our shop to see a range of styles and pricing options that would suit your mom this Mother’s Day.
“The world is your oyster” is a phrase that was created by William Shakespeare. And it’s a message that’s never truer than on the day you graduate from college.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, this phrase can be interpreted as “one is in a position to profit from the opportunities that life, or a particular situation, may offer.” Or in other words, you can do anything and go anywhere you want.
You have spent years preparing for this day. No doubt there were a lot of stress, tears, and sacrifices you had to make to get to this point. And now, you’re faced with the choice of which road you’re going to take next.
Pearls and Oysters of Life
Pearls are formed from an irritation. A foreign object, like a grain of sand, finds an opening into the oyster. It’s painful and irritating to the oyster, and to protect itself, the oyster starts to cover the foreign object with nacre. Many layers later, a beautiful pearl is formed.
Not all oysters produce pearls though. Pearls are rare. Studying is not easy – it takes courage and hard work – and many don’t make it. But you persevered, you learned from the lessons life gave you, and you evolved into a beautiful, shining pearl.
The world is full of opportunities – you just have to take it! You determine your own success.
How does success look like for you? How does your pearl look like?
Is it finding your dream job?
Is it making a lot of money so you can travel and see the world?
Is it making a difference in the lives of family members or in the community?
Is it finding meaning in life?
Or is it finding someone special to share your incredible life with?
Whatever that pearl looks like for you, remember that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Yes, there are more difficult times and stumbling blocks that lie ahead. There are mistakes to be made and lessons to be learned. That is part of life.
But what matters is how you handle these obstacles and what you learn and how you grow from it.
Pearl Jewelry: A Reminder of Possibility
As you are preparing for your graduation ceremony, what better accessories to choose from than pearls? Visit our shop and choose pearl jewelry to remind you of your beauty and the possibilities available to you.
And after graduation, every time life throws you a curveball, you can wear your pearl jewelry to remind you of your strength, what you’ve endured and accomplished so far, and that you can do anything you set your mind to.
For a long time, humans were only concerned about their survival and immediate enjoyment of nature, in other words, appreciating beautiful animals, and taking what we need for food. Today, we’re all concerned about global warming, but something that rarely crosses our minds is the loss of biodiversity.
Without biodiversity on earth, human life is in danger. So let’s look at what biodiversity is, what causes the loss of biodiversity, and what you can do about it.
What Is Biodiversity?
Biodiversity refers to the variety of life on earth – not just those that you can see, but also the millions or billions of microscopic organisms you can’t see. The term is derived from the two words “biological diversity”.
Since many of us live in towns and cities, the preservation of nature is not always front and center in our minds. But the truth is, the quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat, all rely on biodiversity.
Our very existence relies on biodiversity, for example:
Without plants, we’ll have no oxygen
Without bees to pollinate, we’ll have no fruit
Without coral reefs, coastal towns will have no protection from tsunamis and cyclones
Without insects, we’ll have no defense against pests
There are about 1.7 million recorded species of animals, plants and other creatures. But the actual number of species on earth is likely anything between 8-100 million. Add in bacteria and viruses, and the number of individual organisms can be in the billions.
The Loss of Biodiversity
According to the WWF, the number of species on earth was cut in half since the 1970s. Many organisms already went extinct, and we don’t even know it.
We do know about magnificent animals like dodos and mammoths that we’ve lost, while tigers and rhinos are on the brink of extinction.
What causes the loss of biodiversity?
Felling of forests to make way for farmland, housing, and industrial sites
Poaching, overfishing, and overhunting
Pollution, which is especially detrimental to water species
What Can We Do to Preserve Biodiversity?
At Timeless Pearl we don’t have an answer to avoid a global ecosystem collapse. But we can make sure that we do our part for the environment.
Supporting sustainable farming: A pearl farm that is managed well has a very low impact on the environment, but what you may not know is that pearl farms can actually help to keep the environment healthy. The quality of pearls depends on the quality and health of the water, so it’s in the best interest of the farmer to look after the environment. At Timeless Pearl we only partner with pearl farmers who follow ecologically healthy farming practices. Read this article on how pearl farmers can help the environment.
Recycling pearl jewelry: Finally, we recently introduced a new trade-in system where you can return your old pearl jewelry in exchange for a discount on your next purchase. We don’t want your old jewelry to end up in landfill, and we also want to help underprivileged women to look and feel good. So next time you’re cleaning out your jewelry rack, don’t throw your pearl jewelry away. Go to this page to find out how our pearl jewelry trade-in program works.
Stand with us to preserve biodiversity while we still can.
This is the twelfth story following the life of Alexis and her ancestors, telling the story of how their family’s heirloom pearl necklace has impacted their lives. To catch up on the previous stories, click here.
Alexis takes a second look at the box standing in front of her mirror. It’s a wooden box with patterns carved out all over. Every time she opens it, there is a faint whiff of something exotic. It came with today’s letter from grandma, for her birthday. It’s a perfect fit for all the letters she’s been saving, and even has a compartment for the string of heirloom pearls that she received on her 16th birthday.
As she opened yet another of grandma’s weathered envelopes, she could feel the now familiar excitement bubbling inside. What story will it be this year? She wondered.
Time to meet Indira, our spice mistress ancestor. This time, the story is not so much about Indira, but rather about the meaning that a string of pearls, passed on through generations of women, can have in one’s life.
Unlike many before her, Indira lived a good life on the Malabar Coast of India, where she collected spices and brewed teas for the local townspeople. Indira’s great-great-grandmother Rin had spent years saving, until one day she decided she wanted to count memories, not coins, and set sail. When she reached the shore of the Malabar coast, she not only fell in love with the tropical waters but also a local medicine man. Indira had inherited the best from her ancestors: she managed her money like Rin and she had a knack for spices, herbs, and teas. But most of all, she had a good listening ear. And that’s how she landed herself in the middle of most of the townspeople’s problems.
If there was a dispute, they ran to Indira. If there was a mystery, they ran to her too. And if there was a problem, nothing was so big that a cup of Indira’s spicy tea couldn’t solve it. When she was unsure about something, she held the pearls and thought of the people who came before her and all they had accomplished and knew that with patience, she would find the answer.
She was mixing one of these special blends one morning when an unknown young gentleman showed up at her door. He was looking for something to make him strong, he said. Indira had just the thing.
“All I need to know is whether it’s for emotional strength or physical,” she said, smiling, her hand paused above a jar of dark brown leaves.
“Emotional,” he said. And burst into tears!
Indira patted his shoulder. “There-there. Perhaps you first need a cup of this,” she said, pouring from a warm pot of tea that she had been drinking from. “It calms the nerves.”
He drank deeply, and then he explained. “I have come to town to marry the girl that was promised to me. But she wants nothing to do with me. What must I tell my parents? I can’t go back without a bride! She must think I’m a weakling. My parents already think so!”
Indira sighed. He seemed to be a particularly serious type of man. Quite handsome, though. And respectful, which said a lot.
“Well, you will indeed need emotional strength,” she said and got up to put some leaves from different bottles together. As a last touch, she sprinkled some fragrant jasmine in too. Sometimes a bit of uplifting flower perfume was enough to strengthen the weakest of souls. In her pocket lay the string of heirloom pearls to give her the wisdom she needed, inherited from her great-great-grandmother Rin.
Next came Dharma, one of the town elders. Indira bowed to show her respect.
“No bowing today, Indira. We have work to do. Did you see that young man? My granddaughter is promised to him and she wants nothing to do with him! I need a love potion.”
“Dharma, I don’t make those.”
Dharma snorted. “Don’t give me that! Put in some of that pink flower tea you make for the weak-hearted. And add some jasmine!”
Indira frowned. She did not take well to instructions, but out of respect, she started a mix that would soothe the heart in times of turmoil.
“Thank you,” said Dharma, stomping out.
But Indira barely had time to return to her own cup of tea when the doorbell jangled again.
“Indira you must help me! My grandmother was here to get me a love potion, wasn’t she? I won’t drink it, I won’t!” Aditi, Dharma’s gorgeous granddaughter, was standing in the doorway, her black hair flying in all directions, as though she had run here.
“Be calm, Aditi. I gave your grandmother exactly what she needed, and no love potion. What is wrong?”
“I won’t marry him! How can my parents give me to someone I’ve never met? Give me a tea for strength, so I can run away.”
Indira touched her forehead. All this drama and it was only 9 am.
“Drink this,” she said and pushed another cup of her own pot across the counter.
She sipped with Aditi in silence. This was going to be a problem for the pearls to solve. But she would need a bit of time. Wisdom is, after all, acquired over time, the way a pearl forms in an oyster.
“Aditi, I have an idea. Bring your grandmother and come to my house at about noon tomorrow.”
Aditi nodded her agreement, downed the last of her tea and stormed out in the same way her grandmother did. “I’m sorry but I’ve got to be back at the market stall!” she yelled behind her as the door slammed.
Shaking her head, Indira stepped out. Luckily the distraught young man had told her where he was staying.
The next day when Dharma and Aditi showed up, the young man – she’d found out his name was Arjun – was waiting.
Aditi’s face broke into a frown. She folded her arms. Dharma sighed. Arjun dropped his head and looked at his toes. Indira smiled. “I thought we could all sit around my table and get to know one another a little bit.” She had her pots of tea ready: self-confidence for Arjun, wisdom for Dharma and an openness of spirit for Aditi. And around Indira’s neck, the string of pearls.
At first, the conversation went slowly. Indira had to poke and prod. “Where do you come from, Arjun?” she asked. And then to Dharma: How are their families acquainted? Slowly but surely, Aditi seemed to relax. Indira made more tea. The afternoon shadows became longer until the sky turned purple through the window.
“Friends, I’m afraid I’ll have to send you on your way, as I am expecting some guests for dinner. But perhaps we can repeat this tomorrow?” Indira asked. She caught Aditi sneaking a look at Arjun. Then, looking up, she nodded. “That would be nice.”
Dharma beamed. Arjun gave a shy smile. Indira nodded. My job here is done, she thought, touching her pearls. Thank you, dear pearls.
Do you have a string of heirloom pearls to pass on? Visit our shop to start your own heirloom pearl tradition.
If you’ve ever worried about the impact your old jewelry has on the environment, Timeless Pearl has the answer. Or perhaps you’d like to make a difference in the life of an underprivileged woman? Or maybe you just want more money for jewelry. Either way, you need to know about our trade-in system.
Helping women feel glamorous, graceful, and like they can conquer the world is what we’re all about. So is conserving the environment and doing our part for the community.
And that’s why our new trade-in system is so perfect. Not only does it give you a chance to recycle your jewelry, but it’s also an opportunity to acquire something new. Nothing gets thrown away, and somewhere, someone less fortunate than you can benefit from items that are still beautiful, but which doesn’t suit your style anymore.
How It Works
Firstly, you fill out an application form so we know which jewelry you want to return to us. Then you send us your used Timeless Pearl jewelry. Once we receive it, we assess it based on the quality, the original price and the condition it is in. Depending on these factors, we send you an email coupon that could be up to 80% of the original price of your jewelry. You can then spend the coupon on any Timeless Pearl products.
We’ll then donate the used jewelry to underprivileged women in order to give them a chance to feel that boost of confidence and excitement that a pretty piece of new jewelry can bring.
The Three Steps
The process is simple. Here are the steps you need to follow to exchange your old jewelry for brand-spanking new pearl jewelry:
Before you head over to the pearl jewelry trade-in application page, we want to bring the following points under your attention:
You can only return jewelry which you bought from Timeless Pearl. We don’t accept pearl jewelry from other stores or shops.
The maximum amount you can get back is 80% of the original price you paid for it.
You can only apply the cash-back coupon to your cart to reduce the total amount you need to pay on your next purchase. You can’t request the cash amount to be out paid to you.
The condition of your jewelry will determine how much we can offer you in the cash-back coupon.
Fancy an Upgrade?
There’s nothing worse than having a rack full of jewelry, but feeling like you have nothing to wear. But, there’s no need to feel like that anymore. Whether you want something new for a specific occasion or you just want to update your jewelry for a more modern look that reflects your style, now’s the time to take advantage of our new pearl jewelry trade-in system.
Visit our shop to browse our pearl jewelry designs and then head over to our trade-in application page to send back your old jewelry, get a cash-back coupon and use it to make your next purchase more affordable. What are you waiting for?
Exquisite, exotic, and mysterious – black pearls have captivated hearts for centuries.
Natural black pearls are extremely rare, and only the super-rich was able to afford these magnificent gems. But a few decades ago, all that changed. Black pearls are now cultivated and farmed for the enjoyment of the everyday woman. Although still rare, compared to the total amount of cultured pearls produced in the world, it is now within reach of more women.
The jewelry we wear contribute to the richness of the story of our lives, and no gem more so than black pearls. In this blog we discuss everything you need to know about Tahitian and other black pearls, so you can also enrich your life with these exquisite black pearl gemstones.
Types of Saltwater Pearls
Tahitian pearls are saltwater pearls, in other words, they’re grown in the ocean. Saltwater pearls tend to be more lustrous, or glossy, than freshwater pearls, which makes them more valuable.
There are four common types of saltwater pearls:
Akoya pearls: The classic white pearl cultivated off the coast of Japan.
White South Sea pearls: Rare, valuable, and large pearls grown primarily in the waters of Australia, the Philippines, and Indonesia.
Golden South Sea pearls: The same origin as White South Sea pearls, but with a richer color.
Tahitian black pearls: Dark and exotic black saltwater pearls cultivated around the French Polynesian islands. They’re also called Black South Sea pearls.
Where Do Black Pearls Come From?
Although we’re most familiar with Tahitian black pearls, that’s not the only type of black pearl that is produced. There is another location also situated in the south-central Pacific Ocean:
95% of the world’s black pearls are produced around Tahiti Island, French Polynesia. This pearl is called the Tahitian Black Pearl.
4% of black pearls are produced in the Penglin Island and Manihiki Island, which are part of the Cook Islands.
The Symbolism of Black Pearls
There are many legends and myths surrounding black pearls. The most famous is the one of Princess Bora Bora. As the story goes, the god of peace and fertility, Oro, gifted the princes with a black pear to symbolize his eternal love.
Read more about this legend and others here and here.
Black Pearl History
Throughout history, the European royal families have always loved pearls, as can often be seen in old pictures and paintings. In these portraits, white pearls are most prominent, but black pearls were also popular, but very rare.
In the mid-19th century, a large number of fishing boats traveled from Sydney, San Francisco, and Chile to Tahiti to catch the Pinctada margaritifera, also called the Black-lip pearl oyster, in which black pearls are commonly found.
Not only did they open the shells to gather the pearls, but they also used the shells themselves to make buttons. Before buttons were made primarily with plastic, shells were cut to use as buttons. The black inner layer of these black pearl shells made the most beautiful buttons.
However, after more than a century of overfishing, by the mid-20th century, the black-lip pearl oysters in Tahiti were on the verge of extinction.
A New Dawn: Tahitian Black Pearl Farming
The pearl culturing experiment started in Tahiti in 1961, using Japanese pearl farming techniques, but, it took a few years before black pearl culturing became successful.
In 1966 the first pearl farms were built, but they weren’t very successful. It was only in 1972 when the first Tahitian black pearls were exported to other countries – about 1,563 kilograms.
How Are Black Pearls Formed?
Tahitian pearls take more than 24 months to form inside the oyster shell. A small bead is surgically inserted into the pearl sac, and during its growth period, hundreds of thin layers of nacre and vermiculite crystals are secreted to envelop the beads and to finally form the pearl.
Once the nacre covering the bead is thick enough, the pearl farmer would open the oyster with the black pearl inside to remove the gem.
Black Pearl Colors
Contrary to popular belief, not all Tahitian cultured pearls are black. These pearls come in a remarkable range of colors, including creamy white, green, iridescent peacock green, blue, purple, gray, silver, blue-black, gray-black, brown-black, iron gray, and of course, deep black.
Pearls get their colors from the shell they grow in. The black-lipped oyster has a thick inner black shell and secretes this dark nacre to cover the bead implanted in the shell sac, which is why some pearls are black. The nearer this bead is to the shell wall, the darker the bead will be. The darker the color, the higher the value and the price.
The most popular black pearl colors are the rainbow-like colors, like peacock, rich purple, and sea blue. The strong metallic luster on these pearls changes as you rotate the pearl. These pearls are more valuable, and also more expensive, with peacock green at the top of that list.
Matching black pearl beads to form a string of black pearls is extremely difficult as most beads have a different color or shade.
Black Pearl Luster
The luster of a pearl refers to the intensity of the reflection on the surface of the pearl. Pearls with great luster are glossy and you can even see your own image on the surface of the pearl, like a mirror. The greater the luster, the higher the value of a black pearl.
Pearls with a more matt-like luster look a bit dull and therefore have a lower value.
Black Pearl Sizes
Tahitian black pearls are typically between 8-14 mm in size, which is much larger than the classic white Akoya pearl.
Most black pearls are between 9-10mm. A black pearl larger than 15mm is rare, and those exceeding 17mm is a rare treasure.
Black Pearl Shapes
Pearls are rarely perfectly round, but as can be expected, round pearls are the most popular shape and therefore also the most expensive.
Tahitian pearls typically come in five different shapes:
Circular or semicircular
Oval or button-shaped
Semi-Baroque or Baroque
The Surface of Black Pearls
The surface of pearls often has little bumps, threads, wrinkles, and spots, which makes it part of their beauty.
Of course, the more perfect the surface, the higher the value.
Where to Buy Black Pearls?
If you’re ready to enrich your life with the mysterious black pearl, you can check out our online shop for black pearl jewelry: