This is about my third post and I want to introduce myself as I hope to stick around for a while. I am retired, and my favorite sideline has been bead stringing for over 38 years. I love beads and of course, pearls.
In my retirement, my passion for pearls is peaking and I am looking for pearls to string. I have come to appreciate freshwater pearls and will be doing some purchasing and stringing in the future. I will attend the Tucson Gem Trade Shows intensely this February.
I have a small cache of Bahraini pearls, which are truly natural pearls, real pearls. I want to comment on the history of these particular pearls in this History of Pearls section of this forum.
These pearls came from my grandparents, Max and Leila Thornburg (Max comes up with several hits on Google and more on Amazon for obscure book and periodicals) who spent 30 years in the Middle East, 20 of them on Umm a' Sabaan, their own island off the coast of Bahrain. (My grandfather was one of the original negotiators with Ibn Saud for oil rights in Arabia and he became quite good friends with Sheik Kalifa of Bahrain who gifted him with the island for services rendered- I believe he designed an oil refinery for the Sheik.)
Anyway, it was about the time of the death of the pearl industry in Bahrain, because divers would rather work the oil industry. I hear the pearl fields have been pretty much lying there for 70 years. If and when they decide to commercial pearl again, there ought to be some big ones! I may have this tidbit of history too short, so please add any additions or corrections on Bahraini pearls from those of you who do know.
In spite of this dubious distinction of contributing to the demise of pearl diving, my grandfather fully appreciated the original trade of Bahrain and acquired a passion for pearls. He even bought a pearl dhow which sailed the waters around Bahrain and dove around himself. He had an inventory of fine pearls from his participation in the pearl trade. He also kept the pearls he found himself, mostly tiny, baroque, and worthless, except as history. He kept all his pearls in squares of red silk, and opened them for many folks, including rapturous grandchildren, to see. He spoke read and wrote Arabic fluently and loved to haggle. He had jewelry made for my grandmother and his daughters from Bahraini pearls and he had his grandchildren, including me, come visit his island in the Persian Gulf the Christmas of 1954.
I received my own pearl necklace of Bahraini pearls graduated from about 2 -7 mm, from my grandparents, through my mother. I wore it once or twice to the opera and/or ballet, but didn't get possession of it until I was a mother.
The pearls, as strung, could not have been more out of style at the time (1968) and I was already 2 years into my career as a bead stringer. I have adorned several special necklaces with them for family members, as there are more family members than the short necklace. I have held these pearls dear and passed them out sparely and still have about 8-10" left. The gift necklaces go out with strong statements about the rarity and authenticity of these natural pearls!