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[Tidbits] The Trade


The Trade

In 1916 a wealthy man by the name of Mortan Plant wanted to buy a
strand of pearls from his jeweler. It was a rather magnificent strand
and was worth $1 million…a tidy sum in any man’s language. But Mort
did not want to spend the bucks…so he offered a trade. The pearls,
he said, for a piece of land. Done, said the jeweler…and they shook
on it…and each walked away happy.

Forty years pass. The year is 1956. Parke-Benet auctions off the
pearls and pulls in a measly $151,000. The parcel of land, however,
is now one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in Manhattan. It
is in fact a Fifth Avenue landmark, occupied by the original

Of all the gems…pearls rank supreme in historic annals. In the year
2000 B.C. they were used for tax and tribute in ancient China.
Later…they were the privilege of royalty. Circa 54 B.C. the Roman
philosopher Seneca criticized the women of the day for wearing too
many of them. They were the royal gems of the middle ages. In 1835,
the Dowager Empress Tz’hsi had a cape embroidered with 3500 pearls,
each the size of a canary’s egg.

Some of you may wonder how pearls came to grow in oysters. Some of you
misguided souls believe that a grain of sand inside the oyster
becomes slowly covered with Nacre and as each layer is added…the size
of the pearls grow. It’s a naive belief folks… adhered to by a
scientific community who believes in facts and empirical evidence. I
am here to tell you the truth. There are–in fact-- two truths which
refer to the creation of pearls…each one depending upon which
corner of the earth you happen to be standing.

Truth number one: Indian mythology has it that pearls were nothing
more than heavenly dewdrops that fell into the sea and were then
gobbled up by shellfish…presumably oysters.

Truth number two: A simpler and probably an equally accurate version
has it’s source in Hebrew legend which states that pearls are nothing
less than the tears shed by Eve when she was banished from Eden.

In those eons of time before Columbus…pearls were an intrinsic part
of the Indian Culture of what is today known as the USA. Great
quantities of them were found in ancient burial mounds of those
territories with such modern names as Ohio…and Alabama.

There are volumes written about pearls…and so I occasionally go
back and bring you new However…what good is information
if there’s no pretty picture to accompany the tale? Not much good at
all I can hear many of you scream at me in anger while anticipating an
ultimate lack of a graphic to titillate your optic senses. Ah…but
worry not me lads and lassies. I have something to show you.

I have a graphic of a Chrysanthemum brooch made of fresh-water pearls
and diamonds and created by Tiffany circa 1900. It’s an absolute
knockout…a must must see. So quick…with alacrity and much
haste…run… do not walk…to my home page…down the table menu…
to Tidbits Graphics…and click on Pearls.

And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
Benjamin Mark

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