Pearls have been woven into legend and lore throughout history. Ancient Chinese people thought pearls were taken from the brains of dragons, the Greeks believed pearls were hardened tears of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Cleopatra used a pearl earring to capture the love of Marc Antony, and lure him away from the Roman Empire. She told him she could consume the wealth of a nation in one meal, and then crushed her earring and drank it mixed with wine. Other legends tell of oysters swallowing dewdrops as the moon led them deep into the ocean.
Natural pearls are very rare, accounting for only about 1% of pearl jewelry. They are found in the Japan, South Pacific Islands, and the Persian Gulf. To find a quality natural pearl many oysters must be opened and tossed away. Thankfully today, most pearl are cultured, meaning they are harvested on oyster farms.