China. A mysterious place full of traditions, legends and a thousand-year old hystory.
Nowadays in the pearl field China is a “super power“, thanks to the massive quantity of pearls which is able to produce and find some exceptional specimen among them.
But even in ancient times pearls had an important role in Chinese culture, appreciated and kept like precious treasures reserved only for nobles and the royal court: Qing court called “East pearls” all the ones produced in the basin of Songhua river, judging them the highest quality decorations for the royal jewels.
The surface, usually with a semitransparent layer, had a solid texture and a round shape with a particularly shiny luster especially in the bigger ones. Women used to wear earrings made of gold, jade, pearls and other gems since Han dinasty, and these adornments were used at the same time to establish the level of importance of a concubine: the queen wore three pairs of earrings with East pearls, while the other concubines only one to match their elegant dress.
Some of these beautiful jewels have come to us still intact and, despite the yellowing caused by the time and being put on really often – which originates the famous Chinese saying “getting old like a pearl becomes yellow” – , keeping all their extraordinary beauty determined by pearls (either the East and the rice shaped ones), matching the red coral, gold, copper and varnish.
Today as in past times Cina is a great appraiser of pearls and in the last 20 years it stood exceptionally out in the production of these gems thanks to the huge economical and administrative facilitations, received to develope the pearl cultivation, giving birth to hundreds of small companies and shooting China to the apex of pearl markets as big manufacturing Country (let’s just think about the 1600 tons produced only in 2007).
So these wonderful natural gems have all long been part of the Chinese culture, in the past as fantastic pieces of jewellery worth for the imperial court, and nowadays like one of the main income of the whole Country.