The Secret Life of Gems covers Victoria Finlay's third chapter of Jewels: A Secret History -- pearls! By the way, I totally scored this week. My hubby tuned into my blog and picked up Jewels: A Secret History as a Christmas present, and now I'm starting to see another advantage to my online diary!
I could blather on endlessly about pearls because frankly they're my fav. Sometimes I have to hold myself back from adding a pearl to one of my Hint charm necklaces, because it seems sensible to spread the love to those other beauties in my bead stash. What is it about pearls that is so enticing? For me, it represents what I feel most close to in nature like the luminosity of the moon, fluffy white clouds, secret treasures found underwater, pure falling snowflakes, and being able to appreciate the unique qualities of each living thing.
I don't care if people make fun of that 1950s stereotyped housewife beaming by the kitchen stove wearing a glistening strand of white pearls. I love her! She was the best our society could do in that moment to preserve our fragile relationship with Aphrodite (Venus), the ancient Greek goddess of love, beauty and creativity.
In Victoria Finlay's book Jewels: A Secret History, you will discover how pearls went from being something rare, incredibly expensive, and available to only the most rich and famous of the ancient world to becoming the everyday woman's most beloved accessory.
In this chapter, the biggest surprise for me was learning that the British Isles has a long history of producing natural river pearls that led to a Roman invasion and occupation by Julius Caesar in 55 B.C. Am I the only one that is clueless about the existence of river pearls in Great Britain?
Well, if you are as in the dark as me about pearls in rivers, then you will also be shocked to know that these freshwater beauties come from mussels instead of oysters. These wild mussels are now endangered and pearling in Great Britain has been banned. Nevertheless, Finlay seeks out one of these old pearl-fisherman, who is part of a group of travelers found in Scotland.
From this unique encounter with an old Gaelic storyteller, Finlay learns the symbiotic relationship between these people and the rivers, tricks of the pearl-fishers trade and real truth about how a pearl is made.