The Queen of the Sea

Why the royal Conch Pearl is truly the fairest of them all

It should be no surprise that in the kingdom of the sea there is a hierarchy amongst its greatest treasures.  The Queen Conch, found mostly in the Caribbean and Bahamas, is famous for her majestic spindle, and, when held up to one’s ear, the eternal beckoning sound of the surf. Islanders know the conch as a food source, as well as treasured token. The pearl created by her royal highness, the largest of all sea snails, is one of the rarest gemstones known by sea or man –– the conch pearl.  


There is no true rhyme or reason for the conch pearl to form, and, thus, when it does, its birth is a miraculous work of nature.  All pearls are wonderments in their own right, though justified through scientific means. We all learn as children of the grain of sand which lands in a clam’s den, and over time, forms into a precious jewel.  The result, a glistening and delicate shimmering gem, happens against natural odds unless, of course, the pearls are cultivated, in which case, nature is forced to succumb to mankind’s desires.


Conch Pearl Ring
Conch Pearl and Diamond White Gold Cluster Ring $17,763.77 Photo provided by Wonderlust

The Queen Conch, however, will have none of it.  Her complicated inner spiral does not allow for land dwellers, no matter how earnest, to plant the seed needed to harvest a pearl.  Therefore, the world must rely on nature’s course. The result is a mere 3,000 pearls a year, mostly unsuitable and barely round, an estimated 20% deemed of high enough quality for jewelry making.  


To challenge the odds further, pollution has dwindled the Queen Conch population, and while fishing bans have been created in effort to preserve the life of this monarch, the conch’s popularity as an island food staple hasn’t dwindled in the least.  All of this, of course, only gives her pearl more value.


The pearl itself is unique.  Colors run the gamut of the rainbow, from white, to pink, to gold, the more coveted have a salmon hue, and the prize of them all has a lavender iridescence, impossible to recreate without Mother Nature.  To know a conch pearl from its imposters, one must observe its distinctive flame structure.  This is exactly what it sounds like, a wave-like variant of color.


Susan Foster Conch Pearl Earrings
Susan Foster 18K White Gold, Conch Pearl And Diamond Earrings $6,500 Photo provided by Wonderlust

Like traditional gemstones, conch pearls are measured in carats, averaging 2 – 6 carats in size, the rarer reaching as much as 12 carats.  Even rarer stones are said to grow towards 20 carats, though these are, truly, one in a million. Contributing to the majesty of the mollusk as well as the legend, is the story of Chinese fishermen off the Burmese coast who found a Queen Conch trapped in their net.  You can imagine their surprise when their particular sea snail carried a 100 carat pearl, now in the hands of none other than Harry Winston, who know what to do with great pearls.


It’s not just conch pearls, but all natural pearls, which exist against the odds, giving them as much power and lure as the enigmatic moon, said to rule this gemstone.  Astrologically speaking, natural pearls are said to have more strength than cultured, and should be worn for the first time on Monday for the best of luck. In general, pearls can be worn to relieve anxiety and promote healing in the heart.  Pearls have also been rumored to help cure insomnia, diabetes, epilepsy, and fever, and to help young marrieds keep the love alive. They can assist those looking for love in finally find it. Those bearing a perfect pearl can expect to live a matching perfect life, one of success, fulfillment, and longevity.  


Will this rare pearl stand the test of time?  Who else but Elizabeth Taylor, a woman of eternal beauty, taste and legend, who modeled Harry Winston’s conch pearl designs, bringing them back into the forefront in the late 1980’s.  And it was Brad Pitt who put the perfect-pearl-power to full test when he gave his then beloved, Jennifer Aniston, a pricey conch pearl. Understandably, Lady Moon is a discernible ruler.  And who can blame her? Not even the mystical pearl can save us from our mortal folly.


But, on occasion, Miss Moon grants those who honor faith and tradition with glorious fortune, as she did with the aforementioned Chinese fishermen, who were out when the moon was in full glow, following a time-honored belief that only in this rare and illustrious light can precious dreams come true, as it’s the time when nature and ancestry conspire to make pearls rise to the ocean’s surface, like Venus on her celebrated clamshell.


No doubt where there are conch pearls there is love, and legend.  With luck on their side, they will continue to thrive for millennia to come.