Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spanish Pearls: The History of Majorica Pearls

At Bumbershoot Supplies, we were very excited because we recently acquired a limited number of unfinished vintage bracelet strands made from Majorica pearls. But what are Majorica pearls and why are they special?
Off the coast of Spain, on the island of Majorca are made some the world's finest imitation pearls. The company, Marjorica, has been making beautiful faux pearls for over 100 years.
Established in 1890 and moved to the island in the early 1900s, founder Eduard Heusch set out to create pearls as good as the real ones but more attainable. It would not be until the 1920s and 1930s when cultured pearls would become more generally available on the market, and so there was room for Heusch's excellent alternative.
Throughout the twentieth century technological advances made it possible to produce more "Spanish pearls", as they were called, and at a higher quality.

Upon Heusch's death in 1937, his son took over the company and changed the name to "Majorica Pearls" in 1950, after the island where the pearls were produced. Majorica was the only company to produce faux pearls throughout World War II, due to Spain's neutrality, and the company exported over one million pearl strand necklaces to the United States during that time.

Majorica pearls have been long associated with beauty and refinement, and internationalization and glamour would continue to be the path for the company into the later half of the twentieth century. Majorica sponsored the Venice Film Festival in the 1960s where they associated their pearls with stars such as Sophia Loren.  Even today the brand continues to be associated with celebrities, as well as high end fashion and jewelry design.
If you visit the Majorica website, you can view a fascinating video showing how these pearls are made, from hand forming the crystal nucleus, to hand dipping in the secret "pearl essence" to checking, polishing and hand knotting.
If you would like to read more about the history of Majorica check out their timeline. To learn more about the process of making the pearls check out their website and this article Gemological Institute of America about Majorica pearls.

If you, like us, love vintage glass pearls you might also enjoy this post about glass pearls and Leonardo da Vinci's pearl recipe.

1 comment:

  1. i have 2 beautiful strands of Majorca pearls..1 was my mom's and 1 was my grandmothers. they are beautiful ,and i treasure them both!!