Palma City Sights (Pt. 2)
Also being in Palma, I notice there was this fascination this Pearls within the city. I had the opportunity to go to a pearl factory.
To own genuine pearls was the privilege of the rich and powerful until the 19th century. A pearl from an oyster is rare. Back in the day, pearls were not only used for necklaces, bracelets, brooches and rings, but more often than today, they were twisted into hair, sewn onto clothes, etc. In the Middle Ages they covered book covers, and royal caskets. Basically, everything that was to be enhanced in spiritual value, social prestige, or aesthetic appeal was done so with pearl.
With how expensive pearls were, people at that time thought of affordable alternatives. In the 17th century a rosary manufacturer from Paris discovered that the sticky material on fish scales could be used to coat glass beads. This gave them a certain pearly shimmer. Then, in the 19th century the Japanese invented the cultured pearl bringing an end to the upper-class exclusivity of pearl jewellery. However, for many the breakthrough for pearls as reasonably priced jewellery came about 100 years ago and the demand for pearls increased rapidly in the European capitals.
In the production of a pearl a polymerisation process is used. Firstly, a tiny artificial core consisting of white opaque glass, crystal or a seashell is fastened onto a special support. This nucleus is then put into a mother-of-pearl mixture, taken out, dried, and put back in again up to 40 times. In each of these steps the pearl is covered with another extremely thin layer which is heated with a gas burner so that the molecules of the sea water mixture amalgamate to form larger molecules. Despite its name, the mother-of-pearl mixture does not consist of crushed nacre, but rather of small marine animal particles such as mussel sand or fish scales (as used by the rosary manufacturer more than 200 years ago). Finally, the pearl is polished and covered with a special varnish ready to be sold with a 10 year guarantee assuring its high quality. Coloured minerals can also be added to the bath to give the pearls any desired colour and shade.
The surface is smooth and has a harder surface than natural pearls so sweat, make-up, perfume, heat nor cold can damage it. In fact only an expert can tell the difference between a natural pearl and a Mallorca pearl.
Being there, I had to get a pearl myself 🙂
There is ONE MORE post for the Palma City Sights Series,
…keep Cruising with Cocoa 🙂