Thursday 24th June 2010 history was made. It was the day that Australia gained its first female Prime Minister - Julia Gillard. It was also the day I became the proud owner of a beautiful Cellini necklace strung with black pearls, carnelian and smoky quartz beads. Mind you my black pearls, like many black pearls are not really black at all. Mine are a wonderful soft grey-green with the deepest pearl lustre. Confusingly, black pearls come in many colours ranging from black, champagne grey, peacock green, eggplant, bronze, cream, pink and gold. They are called black pearls because the pearls are created by the black-lipped oyster found in French Polynesian waters (the 'Pinctada Margaritifera' oyster). So, it’s not surprising that my first meeting with a black pearl was in Tahiti. (More of that shortly!)
My wonderful necklace will remind me not only of a historic day for Australia but of the delightful colleagues who gave it to me at my farewell morning tea at the University at which I have worked for the past 15 years. Ironically, and unknown to my colleagues it also has historical significance in my life as a beader. I met my first black pearl in Tahiti some 15 years ago. That holiday is memorable not only for being a wonderful holiday with my partner and seeing my first beautiful black Tahitian pearls but because on that holiday I created my very first peyote stitched amulet bag. I used fairly poor quality seed beads and the peyote weaving is very uneven but my love of peyote stitch was born on that holiday under palm trees overlooking a wonderful coral reef lagoon. What a place to fall in love with peyote stitch? My wonderful new necklace of black pearls that are not black is already full of history. How fitting for a farewell gift.
Some links to follow if you’d like to know more about black pearls.
- A great history of the black pearls with a picture of very famous black pearl known as the Drexel Pearl - http://www.internetstones.com/drexel-pearl-natural-symmetrical-drop-shaped-black-pearl-polynesian-origin.html
- Smithstonian Allure of Pearls exhibition - http://www.mnh.si.edu/exhibits/Pearls/text_only.htm
- Famous pearls - http://www.touchofpearls.com/famouspearls.html
- Cellini - http://www.celliniworkshop.com.au/