Pearl Wisdom

These days pearls can be bought virtually anywhere—from the Internet to television—but craftsmanship and quality are difficult to spot sight unseen

Once pearls were considered far more valuable than diamonds, since only 1 in 10,000 oysters may contain a round natural pearl. In Roman times, pearls were so sought after and expensive that Julius Caesar barred women below a certain rank from wearing them. It wasn't until Kokichi Mikimoto, founder of Mikimoto pearls, successfully cultured pearls in the early 1900s that they could be easily matched and made into necklaces (before that, it could take up to 10 years to find enough matching pearls to make a strand). It was Coco Chanel who exploited the discovery of cultured pearls and probably did...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!