“Pearls are always appropriate”, really?

The famous story of Cleopatra’s pearls as told by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History where she dissolved a pearl from her earring in a goblet of wine (or vinegar) and gulped it at the legendary banquet where she had bet Marc Antony that she could host the most expensive dinner in history.

Pearls have always been considered the ultimate symbol of wealth and social standing. Long before the written history, pearls were probably discovered by a bunch of humans searching for food by seashore. Fast forward to today, pearls are “cultivated” at large scales given the studies and technological advancements humankind has made. However, with the growing supply-demand flow, a sense of conscious/ethical consumerism has also started to take today’s population by wave.

Myself, being a part of the same, tried hands at veganism (that lasted for exactly two days, because *GHEE*, my ultimate bait to gluttony). During that period, I read numerous articles regarding animal products. Pearl crossed my head as one, and that naturally made it unethical. What followed was a state of denial because I had just gifted my mom a pearl necklace. So, I got on a mission to subside my guilt.

By no surprise, the first article I read was by PETA, that said,

“Because only about one in 10,000 oysters will produce a pearl naturally — not nearly enough to keep up with demand — pearlmakers have devised a process called “culturing” or “cultivating,” which allows them to exploit oysters faster and cheaper.”

“Farmers then suspend the oysters in water in a cage, moving them around and subjecting them to different water temperatures to create the desired shape, size and color of the pearls. The oysters are then pried open for a second time so that the pearls can be extracted. One-third of oysters are “recycled” and subjected to this stressful process again; the rest are killed.”

Raising animals on aquafarms pollutes our oceans, and overharvesting oysters is destroying natural oyster beds beyond repair.

Then, after reading few more articles, next part is what I deduced.

  • How are Pearls cultured?
    The first step involves carefully cultivating oysters in freshwater ponds or nets/baskets in lagoons protecting them from predators.
    The next step involves “seeding” the oyster. The oyster forms it’s pearls when a foreign body /irritant lodges itself in the shell. To ease the irritation, oyster secretes nacre, or mother of pearl. Freshwater pearls are cultured by inserting another oyster’s mantle tissue. Saltwater pearls have beads and another oyster’s mollusk tissue inserted.

Now, to answer the ultimate question, are pearls always appropriate?

  • Well, if you’re a vegan, then -> NEVER appropriate because it comes from an animal.

Guess Jackie O couldn’t herself fathom depths of the statement she once made, “Pearls are always appropriate”.

Finally, what I take away from this?
Well, bye bye, going to look for some faux or vintage pearls!

Techie on a mission to save the planet 🌏👩‍💻