Pearl in Russia is the history of our wealth. Natural pearls, from which elegant earrings and stylish beads are made, are highly valued all over the world, but the principles of its catching have undergone tremendous changes over the past 100 years.
Many have heard that cultured pearls are as “right” as natural pearls, and its production is concentrated mainly in eastern countries. Jewelers highly appreciate this jewel received from the coast of Japan, but not many know that before the Land of the Rising Sun became the world leader in export of cultured pearls, its main reserves were in Russia.
River pearls and … a cap of Monomakh
Rare chroniclers did not mention in their descriptions the wealth of the Russian land. Trade in furs and skins is mentioned in many records, but there is information that it was pearls that forced merchants from distant countries to cover huge distances. The sale of pearls, which Russia was so rich in, attracted traders from India, Persia and other countries.
Predominantly freshwater pearls of various sizes were highly valued and were never a curiosity for the local population. And where do they get the river pearls? Earlier it was mined in many northern rivers of the country.
One of the symbols of the Russian autocracy is the cap of Monomakh. It is stored in the Armory Chamber of the Kremlin in Moscow. Crowned headpiece has a sable fringe, embroidered with gold, richly trimmed with pearls, rubies, emeralds.
There are many legends connected with the origin of this royal cap and those circumstances, thanks to which it got to the Russian tsars. The most reasonable for today is the assumption that it was created in the 13th-14th century in Central Asia, it is a gift to the Moscow Tsar from Uzbek Khan.
However, there is such a version: this hat was one of the treasures of Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, and was found by the Byzantines at the Tomb of the Three Youths. The headdress was worn by the tsar only at the time of the wedding on the kingdom, when the metropolitan (patriarch) blessed him to occupy the throne.
Shellfish-pearl women, living in rivers, generously endowed with their wealth of man. In order to make jewelry from pearls, sometimes it was quite a few walks by the ponds.
The testimonies of the ancient chroniclers describe the belt of the Grand Duke Ivan Kalita, decorated with pearls, and the pearl earring of Prince Svyatoslav. Legends also go about the mantle of Ivan the Terrible, which was “completely covered with pearls the size of a nut”, and his cap, embroidered with patterns of river pearls. There was no shortage of the precious gifts of our land, whether it be fish in the seas and lakes, rich forests or precious stones in royal clothes.
By the way, the biological processes taking place in pearls over time, sometimes become a help for historians. As you know, the age of life of the pearl is not long – because it though called a stone, but it’s not entirely true. Having studied the state of the mother-of-pearl jewelry decorating the relic, you can find out the period of creation of this very relic. For example, the historical heritage, whose age is more than one century – the cap of Monomakh.
There is a hypothesis that it is not 600 years old at all – namely, historians attribute it to it – but much less. The reason for such assumptions lies in everything in the same chemistry: Monomakh’s hat is studded with pearls, and the average term of his “life” is 100-150 years. However, this mystery is only for those who do not know that restorers regularly update fur and pearls in this “jewel.”
By purchasing now an exquisite necklace or necklace, perhaps we leave relics for our descendants to tear down the historical veils. Who knows – perhaps it is the beloved earrings that will become the main argument of the science of the future in assessing the important events of the current period. And it is pearls that will cause unique discoveries.
Time for a change
Looking back several centuries ago, we see a picture of the total pearl superiority of Russia throughout the world. How did it happen that today exquisite beads and tender necklaces are made from cultured Japanese pearls? What events preceded the disappearance of shellfish and the emergence of the leadership of the Land of the Rising Sun in the production of sparkling natural stone?
The Vyatka River flows into the Kama. It is the city of Kirov and many small towns of the Kirov region (Sosnovsk, Kirovo-Chepetsk, Slobodskaya, Sovetsk, Vyatskie Polyany). The length of the river is over 1300 km. The river is partly navigable (navigation to Kirov – 700 km from the mouth). There is fish in Vyatka: roach, Czech, sterlet, catfish, perch, pike, tench, pike perch, crucian carp. Here and now there are a lot of perlovits.
In the context of reasoning, this is often recalled by decrees of Peter I on the sharp reduction of pearl fishing. The demand for pearls, which were decorated with objects throughout the country, exceeded the supply, and given the depletion of world pearl stocks and the movement of European buyers of precious stones towards the Russian latitudes, it was a question of the fast-flowing processes of extermination of mollusks.
Historians of the middle of the XIX century write about the absence of pearls in Central Russia, and by the end of the century, according to records, the last shell-pearls in Siberia and the Kama region have disappeared. However, it is impossible to catch all pearly mollusks, as it is impossible to collect all the mushrooms in the forest. And in the 21st century a huge number of pearls are found in Kama and its tributaries.
In 1921, the world saw the first results of cultivation of natural cultured Japanese pearls, and after another three decades, catching natural pearls was banned.
Perlovitsy, pearl mussel – the so-called river pearl-bearing mollusks in Russia. For example, the European pearl (Margaritana margaritifera) is a species of bivalve river mollusks that live in streams and rivers of the Northern Hemisphere. Larvae of mollusks are transferred by carp fish, so that the reproduction of the pearl must have carp in the flowing body (minnow, gorchak, gudgeon).
The parasitic stage of development of the glochidia lasts up to 11 months, during which time the host fish should not perish. Thus, the parasite prolongs the life of its owner. There is evidence that the minnow spawns only on the 4th year of life. A shellfish is a long-liver: it is able to live up to 250 years, while its organs do not become old, – it generally can not grow old.
There are many hypotheses as to why wild pearls had to give way to pearls grown under the supervision of a man. One of the most probable causes is a change in climatic conditions. After all, natural fluctuations and changes have always influenced the state and development of the ecosystem. And, of course, people play a significant role in these changes.
The most common in modern ornaments is a round, spherical, shape of pearls. Often to give the pearl of this form, the pearl is polished, removing growths and irregularities. However, how good is the natural, untouched appearance of the pearl!
No wonder at all times baroque pearls (having irregular shapes, bizarre outgrowths) were appreciated especially. The photo shows pearls of natural color: white, lilac, cream, pink, silver, black, peach.
It is the person responsible for many changes. But it is he who is able to create scientific discoveries, capable of improving, updating and creating. Perhaps the beauty of ornaments from cultured pearls is one of the clearest proofs of how beautiful the fruits of the joint labor of nature and science can be.
The quality and variety of pearls and mother-of-pearl, grown in special conditions and without harm to shells, allows you to create luxurious and elegant beads, pendants, brooches. And beauty, as is known, will save the world. And where the natural wealth does not stand the changes, it is the person who should help.