KUWAIT: The radiant-white natural pearls of the Arabian Gulf are seen as the most precious and rarest in the world, as history tells of how Alexander the Great and 80 of his followers gave pearls to their wives as dowries. These hard, round objects were known to be traded since the Roman era, and according to historian Dr Abdullah Al-Ghunaim in his book titled "Pearls," Julius Caesar invaded Britain after allegedly hearing it had pearl sources.
Produced within the soft mantle tissue of a living shelled mollusk, pearls are composed of calcium carbonate in minute crystalline form, which has been deposited in concentric layers. The ideal pearl is perfectly round and smooth.
Al-Ghunaim says in his book that a lot of people of the Arabian Peninsula joined pearl divers in their quest to hunt for the dear gemstone, especially during summer onboard ships taking off from coastal areas in the Gulf such as Kazma, Darine, Awal and Julfar.
Cultural researcher Saleh Al-Misbah said that pearls were often white or cream-colored, but the shade varies significantly according to the species of mollusk.
He explained that it was the shape and shade of the pearl that gave it its name, and that accordingly the price and value varied. Pearls could also be black, or various pastel shades, although black pearls are considered the rarest in terms of color. In addition, pearls-especially freshwater pearls-could be dyed yellow, green, blue, brown, pink, purple, or black.
He noted that natural pearls could easily be told apart from cultivated pearls through the use of x-rays, which cannot penetrate a cultivated pearl.
Meanwhile, diving trainer Khalid Al-Sumait said that one of the main features that determined a pearl's value was its shine and luster, adding that what was distinctive about pearls of Gulf waters was the white glow they had. -- KUNA