The Golden Pearl of Palawan and the Myth of the Pearl of Lao Tzu

The first ever encounter I ever had as a little girl with a pearl was through the famous painting by Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring painting during a school trip at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Where most of my schoolmates were busy discussing the facial expression of the girl, I only had eyes for the beautiful glistening pearl hanging from her ear. Half covered by the shade of her turban, I longed to see the pearl in its full glory! Not long after, I discovered my grandma had a pendant in the shape of of a white gold star, featuring a single snow white pearl in the middle. I spent a long time studying the pearl, the lustre it had was unlike anything I’d ever seen! Depending on how you moved the pendant in the light it would reflect a different glow and colour. I was sold!

Over the years I spent a great deal of time learning about pearls, their history, origins, different ways of cultivation, farming, understanding quality, colour and more. It seems a journey that, with every new piece of information I gather, has proven never-ending. I figured that the best way, and for me also the most fun way, to learn more about them is by simply working with them. And so my adventure into the world of pearls continues!

The Palawan Golden Pearl is often referred to as the rarest and most exquisite of all pearls due to its colour and rarity.

I recently started learning more about the natural Golden Pearl of Palawan. This south sea pearl was brought to my attention by my sister, who has been living in the Philippines for many years, who retired as a gold smith to become a missionary teaching local deaf students. She assisted me in my journey to not only learning more about sourcing ethical farmed golden pearls but also about the history of the island and this species of pearl.

This pearl is unique for many reasons. It’s created by the largest pearl-bearing oyster in the world; the Pinctada Maxima. It takes on average 5 years for a natural golden pearl to be created, with a 10% chance of the pearl resulting in a specimen good enough to use for jewelry as environmental damages & pollution can affect the quality of the pearl in the form of blemishes and discoloration on its luster.

It’s furthermore a natural south sea pearl, which differs from a fresh water pearl by having a much better luster and quality. If you look at fresh water pearls, these can produce up to 50 pearls at a time, whereas the natural salt water south sea pearl is only produced one at a time. This not only adds to their rareness but also their value.

The Palawan Golden Pearl is often referred to as the rarest and most exquisite of all pearls due to its colour and rarity.

I’ve recently received my first shipment of handpicked Palawan Golden Pearls and wasn’t disappointed! The colour reminds me of fine champagne. It’s unlike any pearls I’ve encountered so far and from what I have now learned, no other pearls can match this natural golden glow even when treated or dyed.

Having spent some time with these precious beauties I too have started to feel the royal energy and wisdom they radiate. Working with pearls is a special and much more careful task for me as a jeweler, their luster can easily be damaged if they are not handled with care or touched with perfumed or hands covered in (hand)cream. As much as they were created with care and patience by mother nature, I make sure to use the same care and respect when handling them during my time with them.

One interesting little thing I did bump into whilst researching the Golden Pearl is the saga of the world largest ever found pearl, which happened to be found in Palawan! Although I wouldn’t call her a beauty, this interesting creation was born from a Tridacna clam in 1934, weighing in at a whopping 14 pounds(!), and was named the Pearl of Allah as the chief of the clan where it was given to believed it resembled the face of the Prophet Muhammad. The legend becomes even more interesting when the diver who found it, Wilburn Cobb, decided to exhibit it at Ripley’s Believe it or Not on Broadway. The twist came when an elderly Chinese man by the name of Mr. Lee claimed it wasn’t the Pearl of Allah that he had found, but the long-lost Pearl of Loa Tzu.

Around 600 b.c., he told Cobb, Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher and founder of Taoism, carved an amulet depicting the “three friends”—Buddha, Confucius, and himself—and inserted it into a clam so that a pearl would grow around it. As it developed, the pearl was transferred to ever-larger shells until only the giant Tridacna could hold it. In its sheen, Mr. Lee claimed, was not just one face, but the three faces of Lao Tzu, Buddha and Confucious!

To read more about this saga and how it ended please read the colorful article written by Michael Lapointe as published in The Atlantic, June 2018, here.

For more info on the Pearl Collection pieces or to have your own Palawan Golden Pearl bespoke piece made simply email me directly via anouk@novadiamondsjewelry.com

Anouk @Nova Diamonds

Born & raised in the birthplace of the diamond trade, Amsterdam, and in a traditional Jewish family, I had been surrounded by diamonds and gemstones pretty much from birth. One of my earliest memories if where my grandma used to take me to mineral & gemstone trade shows and it is exactly there where my curiosity and passion for working with crystal and gems was born. Over the years I developed a solid foundation of knowledge on gemstones and crystals, as well as working with them for energetic and healing purposes.

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