Pearls have always been sought after by women as these organic gems a smooth and lustrous white appearance that flatters a clear skin. A pearl is characterized by its translucence and lustre and by a delicate variation of surface color that gemmologists call its 'orient'. The more perfect its shape, be it sphere or teardrop, and the deeper its lustre, the greater its value. Pearls come in a wide range of colours from white, silvery white, pink, salmon, red, copper, bronze, brown, lavender, purple, green, blue and vream to yellow, depending on the mussel species, genetics, organic pigments in the mussel, water quality, and the position of the pearl in the shell. Pale pink, rose, lavender and purple are the most popular colors.
Only certain species of molluscs whose shells are lined with mother-of-pearl produce pearls that are really fine. The salt water pearls from the colluscs that live in the sea are sometimes known as Oriental pearls. Natural pearls from molluscs that live in freshwater are usually of odd shapes and it is rare to find a perfectly rounded specimen. White freshwater pearls are occasionally but wrongly known as elephant pearls. Misshapen pearls of unique forms, are for instance those that look like a statue of the Buddha are of great value. In the seventeenth century, these oddly shaped gems were imaginatively set into brooches and pendants.
Pearls were collected and prized from earliest times. It is conjectured that an ancient Indian fisherman discovered the white pebble-like object while opening oysters for food and the gem has been revered ever since. This organic gem was so respected six thousand years ago that the dead were buried with a pearl in the right hand, perhaps to as a guide to heaven. The legend in India is that loard Krishna plucked the first pearl from the sea to present it to his daughter Pandaia on her wedding day. Chaina's long recorded history also provides ample evidence of the importance of pearls. The Shujing book of recorded observations of 2300BC states that pearls were presented as tribute to the king.