Brazen Princess

Loud and Unashamed
FEBRUARY 6, 2012 9:32AM

Black Pearls

Rate: 13 Flag
My favorite Valentine’s Day gift is a set of black pearl earrings, with a matching choker strand, given to me by Mario, my husband, many years ago.
Jewelry has always been a tricky proposition for me. My lifestyle and my beliefs shape what I do and don’t wear. I have always admired well-cut diamonds, but not worn them, mainly because the working conditions in the mines are so horrible. What we have seen of the diamond industry here in South Africa, we do not admire. The same case can be made for gold and silver, but the precious metals are everywhere, and my most prized possession is my wedding band, a simple 10 karat gold band.
What ends up happening is that I wear very common baubles, costume pieces that change with fashion and are pretty inexpensive. In reality, I am usually bare of adornment, mainly because of our work (relating to the very poor is not done well, even in costume jewelry).
Once, we were burglarized, and my jewelry box rifled through...but nothing was taken. This is indicative of what I wear.
I was a young girl when I fell in love with pearls. My Nana used to wear a strand with a clasp as beautiful as they were. Delicate and Irish, and as luminescent as her pearls, she would tell me that they were a gift from her late husband. “Good pearls,” she said, “light up a woman’s face.” It was true with her, and she glowed when she wore them. After she died, the same pearls lit up my mother’s face.
In researching how they were made, I was equally fascinated with the process. Oysters (and many other molluscs) have an outer shell that is made of two parts, or valves. The shell's valves are held together by an elastic ligament. This ligament is positioned where the valves come together, and usually keeps the valves open so the oyster can eat.
A mistake happens: an mollusc swallows sharp debris (usually a piece of rock sand) and can’t spit it out. To lessen the effect of irritating debris, the animal tries to ease its discomfort by coating the speck in calcium carbonate, which hardens around it to form a pearl.
The inside shell (nacre) of an oyster determined color, luminescence and beauty. Since most nacre of oysters is usually a glossy white or silver, the fruit will be a glossy white or silver as well.
To have such beauty be born of pain gives me hope for the dark areas of my life.
Black pearls are made by a species of oyster called Pinctada Margaritifera, or the “black-lipped” oyster. Historically, they are mainly found in Tahiti, so they began being called “Tahitian Black” pearls. In the past, black pearls were amazingly expensive due to their extreme rarity. Approximately one in ten-thousand oysters produced a black pearl, and of these a small fraction was of adequate luster, shape and size to be desirable.
In recent years, because of culturing (pearl farming), the pearls have become more predictable- and less expensive. Although manufacturers can dye pearls black, it takes extremely rare conditions to form pearls that have that dark, eerily iridescent glow.
When I opened my gift many, many years ago, I gasped.
The earrings were in a box similar in size to an engagement ring box, with an inside a brilliant white. The luminescent rainbows before me spoke to me of a long-lasting love and beauty that is possible through rare pain. I didn’t know what to say.
“They’re real,” Mario said. He meant “cultured real”, but wither way, I balked.
“Why did you buy them for me?” I asked him. I have to say, as beautiful as they were, all I could imagine was the expense.
“Because,” he said, “You wanted them.”
I never asked for them, he probably only heard me telling a story similar to this one that I have told you. He dissected my stories of admiration and my love for my Nana, my adoration of pearls and the way they can turn an ordinary woman into a queen.
He listened and watched as I would tell stories of the darker nacre of the black lipped oysters, influencing the rainbow of the black fruit that would eventually emerge. And then he bought them for me: two perfectly farmed black pearls, which glow against my skin and make me feel like I am worth a great price to the man who gave them to me.
Three months later, for Mother’s Day he gave me a choker strand to match. “This wasn’t as expensive as the earrings,” he said, almost apologetically. I marvelled at them, and there, in gold filigree, was the clasp that was like my Nana’s. Almost as beautiful as the luminescent beads they held together.
I wore them this past Sunday, and as I put them on, I thought of how beautiful and rare they are to me. They are among my prized possessions.
One day, they will light up my daughter’s face.
Pearl, pleasant to a prince's pleasure, To cleanly enclose in gold so clear, Out of the Orient, I boldly say, None ever proved her precious peer.
~from “Pearl” a middle-English poem

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You are a fortunate woman to have a man who listens so well. Pearls are my favorite now that I am a certain age...they don't scratch you!
I new knew how pearls were born and now I know they are in ain when they are birthed it baffles my mind. Almost no different from what we women go through. Birth, pain and live.

I will never look at pearls the same way.
The black pearls are magnificently beautiful and even more so because they were gifts from your husband. Your grandmother is right. I have always believed that wearing a white pearl necklace is like wearing a smile around your neck.
What a lovely story Brazen Princess!
"To have such beauty be born of pain gives me hope for the dark areas of my life." Me too! Wear your black pearls well until they pass unto your daughter.
Beautiful. And Mario...
I love to wear things that belonged to my grandmother and my mom.
especially my parent's wedding bands...which I wear daily.

A lovely post.
Totally beautiful photos, story, and analogy as well! Thank you for sharing this!
Beautiful Love Story! R
A stunning line: "To have such beauty be born of pain gives me hope for the dark areas of my life."
“Why did you buy them for me?” I asked him. I have to say, as beautiful as they were, all I could imagine was the expense.

“Because,” he said, “You wanted them.”

*sniff* damn, sniveling in my coffee here. Lovely love story.
Lovely story, Brazen. Your husband hears you even when you don't think he is--what a rare quality.
"To have such beauty be born of pain gives me hope for the dark areas of my life." Nicely put and rated.
Buffy~ I agree. My husband is a stealth listener...and I do love any and all pearls.

Linda!!~ Maybe that's why I love them...they are birthed, rather than "mined"...and very similar to us. I am grateful that the pearl can now be extracted from the oyster without harming it.

Miguela~ I agree about what you said about Mario- he made them treasures. Very true about the smile. I always notice pearls, and women who wear them become treasures to me.

Fusun~ Such a lovely daughter is definitely as rare as a black pearl!

Ande~ How beautiful to wear your parents' bands!! I love that! Thank you for reading!

ccdarling~ how wonderful to see you here!! Thank you for reading.

Marilyn~ So nice to see you here!! Thank you.

Nicole~ Thank you for noticing what is true in all of us...the dark areas that produce beauty somehow.

hyblaean Julie~ Such a great comment...thank you for noticing my heart...

Erica~ Thanks for your comment... and it is true. My husband has a great ear and a wonderful way of surprising me.

Gerald~ a compliment indeed coming from you! Thank you for reading.
Mario really knows how to treat a woman, I guess you'll keep him around for awhile!:-)
Black pearls rule and so do you..