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  1. #1
    First-graft Pearl Senior Guide Member Cyril Roger Brossard's Avatar
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    Default The Epic of Gilgamesh or why Unlike Rolls Royce, Bahraini Pearls Are a Good Investmen

    The Epic of Gilgamesh or why Unlike Rolls Royce, Bahraini Pearls Are a Good Investment...


    This is a blog authored by Eva the Dragon posted on Feb 2012:

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    From Left to Right - Yusuf bin Ahmed Kanoo, Salman Mattar, Jacques Cartier, Mugbil Al-Tbukair and a pearl expert


    Like Jacques Cartier who came to Bahrain in 1921 looking for pearls, the Japanese have recently been to Bahrain on a pearl quest Dr. Ali Safar confided to us.

    Dr. Safar, the Director of the Precious Metals and Gemstone Testing Laboratory in Bahrain, was the key note speaker at a Pearl lecture I attended last week.

    Why? Today 95% of the pearls sold worldwide are cultivated in China. Even the Japanese who created the cultured pearl industry have given up against the Chinese onslaught. The only market the Japanese can afford to compete in today are pearls larger than 8mm.

    Not to denigrate the quality of cultured pearls, for as Dr. Safar said, “experts with a lot of experience” have difficulty differentiating between a cultured pearl and a natural pearl. The real difference between natural and cultured pearls is its essence – was it created naturally, by chance, or has man manipulated nature in his laboratory for commerce.

    Bahraini pearls have not only worn by royalty but “al haka” or extremely small pearls that cannot be drilled are crushed and eaten or used in cosmetics because they are believed to hold the secret to immortality.
    Bahraini pearls prized status as “Jiwan” (perfect pearls) began 5,000 years ago when the ancient Sumerians wrote about the two-thirds divine, one-third human, King of Ur, Gilgamesh.

    Gilgamesh after losing his beloved friend, the wild man Enkidu, began to worry about his own mortality. He decided to search for Utnapishtim the survivor of the Great Flood to whom the Gods had bestowed immortality. Gilgamesh traveled to Dilmun (Bahrain) where Utnapishtim and his family lived. After some negotiation, Utnapishtim told him the flower (the pearl) of immortality lay at the bottom of the sea. Gilgamesh dove down deep and found the pearl. But when he fell asleep, a snake swallowed it.

    The Epic of Gilgamesh gave Bahraini pearls a special magic. But the reason they are the rarest natural pearls in the world is because of the unique natural phenomenon in the Gulf where fresh water springs burst out into the salt water. Unfortunately even Paradise can only support so many people. The seemingly endless fresh water supply has been nearly used up by modern people and industry. Like the rest of the world’s oceans, the Gulf’s sea beds are polluted and have been diminished by government land reclamation.

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    Similar to diamonds, a pearl’s value is based on its luster, color, shape and size. The larger the pearl, the more valuable it is. The Bahraini pearl’s incredible luster is based on its unique habitat. In Bahrain where Indian traders dominate pearl wholesaling, pearl descriptions are in Hindi. The Indian scale starts with perfect pearls or Jiwan which means beauty.

    “Everyone wants Jiwan but they are very rare,” Dr. Safar assured us.

    Shireen is next, meaning “sweet” or having very good luster.

    Gholwah means “round pearls” or average.

    Badlah means irregular shape.

    Sihteet are poor to average luster.

    Khaka is kaka – in every language I guess – or the lowest quality.

    Bahraini pearls range up to twelve different colors depending on the mollusks. A local diver said she noticed the pearl’s color was dependent on where it formed with the pearl’s body.

    “Mollusks are like people,” said Dr. Safar. “Some are white and some are yellow.”

    In the Gulf region, the mahar mollusks produce the nabati pearls, cream with a reddish hue, which are favored among the Gulf people. The abyadh (white) and gallabi (white with a strong iridescence) are popular with other buyers. The zinni mollusks found in the shallow waters produce the rare colored, more expensive, pearls.

    Pearl buying is like buying a used-car.

    “If the salesman figures out what you like, you might pay 1,000 dinars when other people will only pay 100. This is life,” counseled Dr. Safar.

    The only way to know how that creamy bit of calcium carbonate was created is to x-ray it – at the lab – after purchase.

    Despite their small size, Dr. Safar assured us a double stranded, Bahraini pearl necklace was a better investment than a Rolls-Royce.

    “A Roll’s value depreciates,” he said nodding at the two Saudis in their elegant thobes, “but a Bahraini pearl only increases in value.”

    Since my blog hasn’t made me enough money to buy either a Rolls Royce or a pearl necklace, I am afraid I will have to wait until I reach Paradise where the Koran says the faithful will be adorned in pearls.
    Last edited by Cyril Roger Brossard; 03-23-2013 at 02:50 AM.

  2. #2
    Pearl Maven Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Caitlin's Avatar
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    I never knew the epic of Gilgamesh. I will check it out! The first pearl fiction?
    Caitlin

    How to hand-knot pearls without a tool

    My avatar is a Sea of Cortez mabe pearl. One of a pair of Mexican handmade earrings.

  3. #3
    First-graft Pearl Senior Guide Member Cyril Roger Brossard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caitlin View Post
    I never knew the epic of Gilgamesh. I will check it out! The first pearl fiction?
    Some more information:
    as seen here.
    An article by Maeve Kelynack Skinner.

    Bahrain's history goes back a long, long way. How long? Well, consider this: The Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia (now Iraq) – widely believed to be the first to discover the art of writing – etched man's earliest adventures onto clay tablets more than 5,000 years ago. Among those tales were the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Noah and the Great Deluge and, the Epic of Gilgamesh which gives the first mention of Bahrain, then known as Dilmun.

    So Bahrain not only existed in those prehistoric times, it was apparently also well known in the region.

    The epic tells of how King Gilgamesh of Uruk (Iraq) sought the secret of eternal life. This, he believed, lay in the sea surrounding Dilmun which was composed of sweet water which gushed up from underground streams to mingle with the salty water, thus forming two seas – to which Bahrain owes its name: bahr is sea in Arabic and 'thnain is two.

    The epic contains the following verse:

    There is a plant that grows under the water
    It has a prickle like a thorn,
    like a rose; it will wound your hands,
    but if you succeed in taking it,
    then your hands will hold that which restores his lost youth to a man

    The 'plant' is believed to refer to an oyster and what Gilgamesh likely held in his hands was a pearl because even 5,000 years ago Bahrain was famous for its dazzling natural pearls which owe their special lustre to oysters found only at this confluence of the two seas. Bahrain was the pearling centre of the known world and its gems sought after by royalty such as Queen Elizabeth I, Emperor Napoleon and wealthy princes and maharajahs.

    Geoffrey Bibby, the late Danish archaeologist, led the first archaeological expedition to Bahrain in 1953 to search for Dilmun, which according to folklore was 'a land without death or sickness and with an abundance of sweet waters believed to grant eternal life.'

    Bibby verified the existence of Dilmun, the rich capital of an independent kingdom and a strategic trading entrep?t between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley (India) which is described in his book, Looking for Dilmun.

    Bibby also found the world's largest known prehistoric cemetery with more than 100,000 burial mounds covering areas of Bahrain. No one knows quite why people were buried here in such numbers but the fact that pearls have been found alongside other jewels, clay pots and artifacts in excavated grave mounds, indicate a belief that the island possessed the secret of immortality.

    The burial mounds were from two distinct eras – the Dilmun period of 3000 to 1800BC and the Tylos (Greek) period of 1500BC to 350AD. The most exciting finds from the Dilmun era were the soapstone seals, that were used to make impressions in soft clay or wax, representing a signature or mark of ownership. Bibby found the remains of a seal-carver’s workshop and as the seals found in Bahrain were unlike similar types from Mesopotamia or India, it confirmed that many originated in Bahrain. The most notable seal sites are in Barbar and Saar.
    Saar was one of the major discoveries of the Arabian Gulf region when first uncovered in the early 1980s by a Jordanian-Bahraini team. But it wasn’t until 1989 when archaeologists Dr Robert Killick and his wife Dr Jane Moon, arrived in Bahrain and formed the London-Bahrain Archaeological Expedition, that the site was fully investigated.

    The city was inhabited between 2100-1800BC during the Dilmun era when Bahrain was involved in the copper trade between Oman and southern Iraq.

    According to Killick, uncovering the ancient city was almost like lifting the lid on a toy box to reveal a perfectly laid out 'Lego-land' city with walls, streets, stones and a temple that had remained intact for four centuries. Lying undisturbed on the temple's sandy floor were numerous seals, platings and sealings indicating that food and drink offerings used for ceremonial rites had been stored there.

    These exquisitely preserved Dilmun seals are now on display in the Bahrain National Museum and are a 'must-see' on any visitor's tour of Bahrain. The designs are often used by Bahrain's jewellers to create unique mementoes of Bahrain.

    The Tylos area was introduced to Bahrain by a Grecian naval fleet exploring the Arabian coast for Alexander the Great who had his eye on annexing the peninsula into his Hellenic empire. Nearchos, one of Alexander's admirals wrote: "There lies the island of Tylos, distant from the mouth of the Euphrates about a day and a night's sail .... it is large and neither rough nor wooded and bears garden fruits and all things in due season."

    But before Alexander had a chance to conquer Arabia, he died. His fleet remained however and set up a flourishing entrep?t in Bahrain, benefiting from the increasingly affluent commerce between Greece, Rome, Persia and Arabia, exporting frankincense from Oman and pearls from Bahrain. Ancient historian and military commander Pliny acknowledged in one of his letters: "Tylos was famous for its vast number of pearls."

    Finds from excavated Tylos tombs now displayed in the Bahrain National Museum include exquisite Hellenic gold and precious gem necklaces, rings and earrings, delicate glasses and bowls, stone figurines and pre-Islamic coins copied from Alexander's monetary designs.

    Flash-forward a few centuries and Dilmun's waters of eternal life could so easily have referred to the discovery of oil in Bahrain in 1932. It was the first nation in the Gulf to find the precious 'black gold' that paved the way for untold riches to gush forth from beneath Arabia's sands and change forever the lives of its people. New Zealander Frank Holmes, the first overseas representative of California's Standard Oil Company, (forerunner to Bapco) was convinced that an immense oilfield ran along the Gulf coast – and he was proved right.

    Although the discovery of oil took a few years to bring financial security to Bahrain, it saved the nation from an economic downturn caused by a decline in the pearl trade and World War II.

    By the early 1970s Bahrain was replacing Lebanon as the financial centre of the Middle East and in 1973, the Bahrain Monetary Agency (BMA) was established to implement the country's fiscal policy and ensure a secure and well regulated investment market that operates within world class standards. The Central Bank of Bahrain has recently replaced the BMA as the kingdom's official financial services regulator.

    Political history: Bahrain was conquered by the Al Khalifa dynasty in 1783 when Shaikh Ahmed Al Fatih became the first Ruler of Bahrain. Ten generations later his descendant, HM King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa transformed the Emirate of Bahrain into a Kingdom in 2002 with a constitutional monarch as its head. He also introduced elections for parliament. HH Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa is Prime Minister and HH Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa is Crown Prince and Commander in Chief of the Bahrain Defence Force.

    Bahrain has a population of approximately 700,000, about half of whom are its own citizens and the remainder composed of other Arab nationals and expatriates from all corners of the world. Bahrain is a melting pot of nationalities, renowned for its friendly people and relaxed lifestyle, tax free environment and large investment potential.

    In November 1986 the King Fahad Causeway officially opened, linking the vast Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the Gulf's smallest island nation and opening the doors for huge investment and tourism opportunities between Bahrain the Arabian Gulf.

    In 2006, construction began on the Friendship Causeway linking Bahrain to Qatar. When completed in 2012, it will be the longest fixed link causeway in the world.

  4. #4
    Pearl Maven Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Caitlin's Avatar
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    Flash-forward a few centuries and Dilmun's waters of eternal life could so easily have referred to the discovery of oil in Bahrain in 1932. It was the first nation in the Gulf to find the precious 'black gold' that paved the way for untold riches to gush forth from beneath Arabia's sands and change forever the lives of its people. New Zealander Frank Holmes, the first overseas representative of California's Standard Oil Company, (forerunner to Bapco) was convinced that an immense oilfield ran along the Gulf coast – and he was proved right.

    Although the discovery of oil took a few years to bring financial security to Bahrain, it saved the nation from an economic downturn caused by a decline in the pearl trade and World War II.
    Just wanted brag a little. Although Holmes was mentioned, My own grandfather, a veep of Standard Oil in the Richmond Refinery was on the first team sent to Saudi Arabia to negotiate oil rights and helped form Aramco- and later Bapco in Bahrain. He learned Arabic and stayed over there for more than 3 decades. As a civil engineer, he designed the first refinery in the Persian Gulf. The Shaikh of Bahrain gave him an island called Umm-a-Sabaan, where he built a home and garden and lived with my grandmother. He also sponsored pearl dhows, thus my small collection of Bahraini pearls. I went over there to visit at age 13. I wrote anther thread about it back in 2005. It's around somewhere with photos of my grandmother wearing at least 3 of her Bahraini pearl necklaces. He came back in 1960 and took the Middle East Chair at Harvard. I forget the name of the thread now. Anyway, that is my tie to Bahraini pearls!
    Caitlin

    How to hand-knot pearls without a tool

    My avatar is a Sea of Cortez mabe pearl. One of a pair of Mexican handmade earrings.

  5. #5
    First-graft Pearl Senior Guide Member Cyril Roger Brossard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caitlin View Post
    Just wanted brag a little. Although Holmes was mentioned, My own grandfather, a veep of Standard Oil in the Richmond Refinery was on the first team sent to Saudi Arabia to negotiate oil rights and helped form Aramco- and later Bapco in Bahrain. He learned Arabic and stayed over there for more than 3 decades. As a civil engineer, he designed the first refinery in the Persian Gulf. The Shaikh of Bahrain gave him an island called Umm-a-Sabaan, where he built a home and garden and lived with my grandmother. He also sponsored pearl dhows, thus my small collection of Bahraini pearls. I went over there to visit at age 13. I wrote anther thread about it back in 2005. It's around somewhere with photos of my grandmother wearing at least 3 of her Bahraini pearl necklaces. He came back in 1960 and took the Middle East Chair at Harvard. I forget the name of the thread now. Anyway, that is my tie to Bahraini pearls!
    beautiful story. I believe this is the thread: The Story of my Bahraini Pearls

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