Best of Birthstones: Pristine Pearls

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Pearls have always exerted a powerful allure. In ancient times, the Greeks believed that pearls were the tears shed by Aphrodite, goddess of love, and the Chinese thought the gem protected the wearer from harm. As evidenced in portraits of Queen Elizabeth I and members of the English court, the Tudors prized these lustrous gems so much that the 16th century came to be known as the Pearl Age. In the modern era, pearls have retained their status, worn by legendary beauties and style icons such as Audrey Hepburn and Coco Chanel. Unlike diamonds, natural pearls emerge fully formed, and the finest are lustrously silky and perfectly round, which makes finding a match an incredible feat. Pearls also vary in shape, size and colour, ranging from a more common cream or pink to rarer shades of black, green, blue and gold. Click ahead for an array of pearl jewels coming to auction, plus one record-setting past lot. –Stephanie Sporn

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30 June–14 July

Best of Birthstones: Pristine Pearls