If you’ve spent most of your life in the South, it would be easy to assume that everyone treasures their pearls like women in the south do. While they are purchased, collected, and worn worldwide, there is a different appreciation for pearls in the southern states of America.
The story begins as far back as the 1500’s when Columbus discovered pearls throughout the Americas during his voyages. Famous explorers like Columbus and John Smith both documented that pearls were adorned by the Native American Indians throughout the area. In Spain, the Americas were named the Land of The Pearls. Our pride, as “southern Americans” in the jewel stemmed from the fact that they became part of our identity to the world.
North American Indians were very familiar with Pearls. The famous Captain John Smith documented that the elite amongst Indian tribes used to adorn themselves lavishly with pearls.
Be careful not to confuse the fact that they were found here with the idea that they were a commodity. These natural pearls were most often found in the Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers. They were made naturally which means they were rare and very expensive. Only the elite amongst society could afford such a luxury and the reputation of pearls was that of a “regal-like” gem.
In the 1920’s pearls were seen on notable actresses and flaunted by the flappers. Once Japan started creating cultured pearls, that is inserting a small mead into a mollusk to produce the round peals we more commonly see today, soldiers started bringing them home for loved ones. They became more assessable and inexpensive but surprisingly, didn’t lose their importance and status in the region. Eventually, these pearls became legacies that were passed down from mothers and grandmothers to their daughters and granddaughters. This is why pearls have never gone out of style. Wearing pearls is not a trend that ebs and flows with each decade; they are a timeless southern tradition that still represent class and dignity.