What is Conch Pearl?

The giant conch is found in the West Indies, off the Florida coast and in the gulf of California. It has pink and white layers, and is used to make cameos. Conch pearls are rare and have no nacreous layer, but are similar to the interior of the shell. They are pink or pinkish-orange in colour with a distinctive flame-like structure. Most conch pearls have an oval or egg-like shape.

Conch pearls reached a peak of popularity in the late 19th & early 20th century. Many wealthy and royal ladies of the time added this rare pearl to their jewelry collections. The Philadelphia exposition in 1876 showcased conch pearl jewelry designed by Tiffany and Queen Victoria. Even in those times, the conch pearl was rare and the price reflected it. Tiffany sold a conch pearl necklace in 1855 for $4000 USD which is equivalent to $83000 USD today. During this time, a reported annual yield of Bahamian conch pearls was the equivalent of a million dollars in today's value, testament to the rare pearls popularity. A notable example of the Bell Opoque period (1901-1915) conch jewelry is the Queen Mary conch pearl brooch. It features two rare conch pearls with a combined weight of 53 carats that is set in platinum with small rose-cut diamonds. Designed by the crown jewelers of the time, Gerrard & Co. named after its original owner Queen Mary, queen consort of King George V, this piece helped elevate its distinguished role amongst the wealthy and noble during this period. Sue Hendrickson, turned her hobby of collecting conch pearls and then eventually reintroducing them to the jewelry design world did we see a resurgence of interest in their use and collection.


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