A few days ago, summer officially began. The temperatures are already heating up into the triple digits here in Dallas and it is only June! With the warmer weather, however, it is my favorite time of year to wear my jewelry made of this month’s traditional birthstone, the pearl, because it is no longer hidden underneath coats, hats, and long sleeves.
The History of the Pearl
Pearls have a long and fascinating history. It is the oldest known gem and for centuries, was considered the most valuable. It is also a symbol of unblemished perfection. The meaning of the Latin word for pearl is “unique” as no two pearls are ever exactly alike.
All over the world, pearls have been esteemed as precious and valuable. As early as 2300 BC, pearls were presented as gifts to Chinese royalty. In ancient Rome, which began in 753 BC, pearl jewelry was considered the ultimate status symbol. Pearls were considered so precious that Julius Caesar passed a law in the 1st century BC limiting the wearing of pearls to only the ruling classes.
Long before the discovery of oil, the Persian Gulf was at the center of the pearl trade which created a great source of wealth in the region. In Western Europe, ladies of nobility and royalty wore very elaborate pearl jewelry which created an insatiable desire for pearls. By the 19th century, the demand for pearl jewelry became so high that oyster supplies began to diminish.
The Rarity of Natural Pearls
Natural pearls form when an irritant, such as a parasite, works its way into an oyster, mussel, or clam.
As a defense mechanism, a fluid is secreted to coat the threatening irritant to seal off the irritation. This coating is called nacre, a crystalline substance known as mother of pearl that creates the iridescence seen in pearls. Over time, after several layers are deposited to produce a thick layer of nacre, a lustrous pearl is formed. The luster is the quantity and quality of light reflected from the pearl’s surface. The higher the luster, the longer the durability and life of the pearl.
Up until the beginning of the 20th century, the only way to harvest pearls was for divers to risk their lives by descending at depths of up to 100 feet to retrieve oysters. It was a dangerous job with very limited success as thousands of oysters would deliver only a mere three or four quality pearls.
A natural pearl with value is found in approximately one out of every 10,000 wild oysters! A man by the name of Frizz could easily vouch for that. He is one of the last remaining divers on the Tennessee River. After 18 months of diving, Frizz found only three pearls, all from the same muscle shell. I am sure this was quite disappointing for him after putting forth so much time and effort to find them! Natural pearls are definitely rare and valuable.
So just how valuable are natural pearls? In December of 2015, an extraordinary strand of 45 white to light cream graduated natural pearls became available at an auction in Boston. The strand had come from the collection of a prominent British American family and had been purchased during the late 1800s. It ended up selling for the astonishing price of $2,211,000! These rare, natural pearls were definitely regarded as valuable!
The Apostle John was given a vision of the new heaven and the new earth described for us by him in the Bible throughout the book of Revelation. After knowing what I now know about pearls, I must admit the description of the gates is difficult for my human mind to fathom!
The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. Revelation 21:21a
Can you imagine each gate made of just one single pearl? What an awesome sight that will be as we enter into our eternal Home!
While I was designing gemstone bracelets back in 2012 for my Kingdom Collection based on John’s description of heaven after Jesus returns, I added a freshwater pearl bracelet to the collection:
I decided to call it “Heaven’s Gates” as a reminder of the spectacular pearl gates awaiting us when we arrive.
These pearl gates will always be open because there is no night there. Normally, a city’s gates are open during the day and closed at night to protect against enemy attack. But because there is no night and no enemy to fear, the gates will always be open.
On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. Revelation 21:25
We also know this about the city and its pearl gates:
It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Revelation 21:12
As a symbol of unblemished perfection, it is not surprising that the gates are made of pearls as nothing impure will ever be allowed to enter through them. Thankfully, God made a way for every one of us to enter even though we are sinners, far from unblemished!
Just like the nacre covers the irritant in the mollusk for protection, Jesus covers our sin with His shed blood, the highest price He could pay, so we can be pure and holy, protected to be able to enter through those perfect pearl gates into our eternal Home.
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Psalm 32:1
Entering Through the Pearl Gates
Although everyone is welcome to enter through these pearl gates, not everyone will. There is one simple requirement…to accept Jesus’ gracious, merciful, and loving invitation to be with Him for eternity by acknowledging He is your Savior – that He alone can save you.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
If you have accepted His invitation, your sins are wiped away forever and your name is permanently written in the Lamb’s book of life. You will be free as one who is unblemished and pure to enter through those breathtaking pearl gates when you pass from this temporary life on earth into your eternal Home!
Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Revelation 21:27
Yes, those natural pearls are extremely valuable. But you are far more valuable to God. You are His child, created to be completely unique and unlike anyone else in the whole world. He paid the highest price to be with you for eternity by giving His life, shedding His blood so all of your deepest, darkest sins could be completely covered with His radiant light and flawless purity. Like the beautiful, lustrous nacre of a precious pearl.
Sparkler #1: Prayer
Admit to God that you are a sinner and acknowledge that He is your Savior. Ask Him to forgive you, making you pure and unblemished so you can freely enter those pearl gates into eternity with Him when you leave your temporary home here on earth.
Sparkler #2: Action
Never forget your value to God and how much He deeply loves you and wants to spend eternity with you.
Sparkler #3: Challenge
Live your life in a way that is pleasing to Him in all you do, knowing you belong to Him and are His unique child, so His radiant light can shine through you.
*Pearl oyster – photo credit: Manfred Heyde
Kimberly Moore is a vintage costume jewelry expert, blogger, speaker, and author of Beauty in a Life Repurposed. To learn more, visit her website at kingdomsparkle.com.
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