The Story of the Pearl

Posted by Elaine December 13, 2017 at 12:00 AM AEDT

It was my privilege recently to spend time in Broome – The Pearl Capital of Australia. Broome is a remote outback town situated on the Indian Ocean in northwest Australia. … Often referred to as the gateway to the Kimberley, Broome owes its existence to the discovery in Roebuck Bay in 1861 of the Pinctada Maxima, largest pearl oyster shell in the world.

I’ve never been particularly interest in owning a pearl, I’m more interested in something that sparkles. But my interest changed as I learned the process of pearl cultivation and saw these balls of beauty in a new light, unexpectedly turning my thoughts towards heaven.

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The story of pearl cultivation really fascinated me, giving me a new appreciation of their worth.

I learned that as the oyster tries to expel the bead it turns it round and round coating it with a smooth nacre coating that builds many thin layers, creating an iridescent cover over the irritation and creating a pearl. Its unlikely to find a natural pearl, the special ones formed when shell grit lodges inside the oyster shell, because as the oyster spins the irritation the pearl can easily slip out, falling down deep onto the ocean floor to be lost in the sand.

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The process of culturing a pearl begins when oysters, some as large as a dinner plate, are harvested under licence from the ocean.

Then a technician places a tiny incision into the gonad muscle of the oyster to make sure it can’t be lost and a small artificial bead is inserted into the incision, then the oysters are placed in wire racks attached to lines and returned to the ocean where they were found, but that’s only the beginning of the story.

Then the tedious work begins and for the next two years, every five or six weeks the oysters are raised to the surface and scrubbed clean of all the seaweed so the oyster’s life isn’t hindered.

After two years these oysters are finally harvested. They are all harvested together but the harvested pearls differ greatly in size, shape and worth.
Some turn out to be pearls of great price with beautiful lustre, shape, size and clarity.
Some have ridges formed by incorrect placement of the irritation in the muscle of the oyster so when the bead was spun around, grooves were formed and are worth much less than others
Some are perfectly round while others are odd-shaped and the colours vary.
Some arrive dull and pitted and disappointing after the effort that went into creating them.

This is the pearl that was found in the beautiful oyster above.

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Most oysters die after their pearl is extracted and are sold for pearl meat or their pearly shell, however, there are others that are re-inserted with a larger irritation and returned to the ocean to begin the pearl creating process again, sometimes two or three times over before their days of pearl bearing are over.

I couldn’t help seeing the parallel between the making of a pearl and what we strive for. The Bible says we will all stand before God one day and give an account of our life to Him. When thinking of what God has done in sending Jesus to die for us so we can be free, we can ask ourselves:

Am I like that precious natural pearl that fell to the ocean floor, lost to my potential for lack of understanding?
Am I like a pitted pearl with no lustre and discarded because I wasn’t as valuable as I thought?
Am I the pearl that wasn’t inserted where God wanted me to be so I missed out on some of the blessings offered to me?
Or am I the priceless one who’s lustre is distracting to others, who is trusted to be sent back time and time again, suffering the increased irritation so that more lost pearl makes it home where they belong?

Only we can make that choice.

Heaven’s twelve gates, the Bible says, are great pearls!
When I thought of the size of those gates I wondered how huge the oyster must have been to create such pearls. Then as I reminisced about how pearls are formed through irritation God showed me that the pearls represent the children of God who overcame irritation in life as God poured on soothing beautiful ointment for all we had the courage to go through.

When the strife of life doesn’t get us down and when we remained determined to be a child of God whatever it takes and when we are obedient to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith we will walk through those pearly gates into our reward!

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The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl.
The street of the city was the purest gold gleaming like glass.
I could see no Temple in the city, for the Lord, the Almighty God and the Lamb are themselves its Temple. The city has no need for the light of sun or moon, for the splendour of God fills it with light and its radiance is the Lamb. Revelation 21:21-25

“Heaven’s kingdom realm is also like a jewel merchant in search of rare pearls. When he discovered one very precious and exquisite pearl, he immediately gave up all he had in exchange for it.” Matthew 13:45-46

Footnotes about this verse from The Passion Translation:

13:46 The Aramaic is “unique.” Jesus is the merchant. (See Song. 3:6.)
You are the exquisite and unique pearl, as his beloved follower, that came from the wounded side of Jesus Christ. You prompted him to give up all, including his sacred blood, in exchange for having you as his very own.
See also Hebrews 12:2 and Isaiah 43:4.

So pearls are significant to me now as I wear one to remind me of the beauty that can come from my irritations in life and when I trust Jesus through the irritation, no irritation will be wasted.

Please share this message with those you love and bring hope and light to someone else’s world!
2017 Elaine Costin – Capturing Sunrise / Blog

Read more about the value and history of a pearl here