The journey of the pearl echoes the human journey. Both people and pearls hail from humble beginnings and endure a long growth process where patience and nurturing are paramount to their wellbeing. And when people and pearls are cared for properly, hardships result in beauty.
Whenever I think about this wondrous gem, I am in awe and put under a spell veiled in emotion, feelings, and thoughts that are not easy for me to explain. There is a common denominator in the life span of pearls and people that converges in a struggle to overcome adversity; perhaps this is why I’m drawn to this gem like no other.
People have no shortage of hardships in life, and so does the pearl, including fighting off hungry predators and intruders that may cause the growing pearl to shift. But even when obstacles interfere and the resulting pearl isn’t “perfect,” it will still have a beauty worth appreciating. Kind of like the wrinkles people “earn” as we age.
The pearl’s desirable attributes of luster and orient also parallel human existence. Luster is the surface glow of a pearl—a reflective light or iridescence. In people, our humanness, our essence, is like light; you know it when you meet someone who spreads joy, is cheerful, and lights up a room (pardon the pun). You know it when you’ve seen it. Meanwhile, a pearl’s orient is the shimmer of iridescent rainbow colors on or just below a pearl’s surface and only occurs when layers of nacre are thick and deep. People, too, have layers of mystery that make up the essence of who we are, what make us, us. Under different sets of conditions, we see different aspects of who we are.
The stewards of both people and pearls must protect the health and safety of their wards—just as with families, care, patience, and respect drive the future and next generation of pearls. No two pearls or people are alike, but both come in many shapes, sizes, and varieties that are ready for appreciation.
Kathy Grenier is the marketing director of the Cultured Pearl Association of America and the business development director at Imperial Pearl. Still life photo by Ted Morrison. Pearls from Eliko Pearl.