Well, this is a release from the Guinness World Records people, but it is interesting as it confirms accounts of the pearl fisheries in the Caribbean in Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo’s Historia natural y general de las Indias. Lisa
GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® certified the ‘LARGEST COLLECTION OF PEARLS DISCOVERED”
GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® certified and recorded the counting and verification of a collection of 2,392 natural saltwater pearls, in the presence of two expert witnesses. This collection is part of “The Columbus Pearls” collection, which have been dated to be from the fifteenth and sixteenth century.
Some of the pearls from this unique pearl treasure have been tested by some of the prestigious laboratories located in Switzerland, USA, Liechtenstein, Thailand and Bahrain. Carbon dating results from three different sources concluded that the pearls are from 1455 AD to 1615 AD, making them the oldest natural saltwater pearl treasure ever found.
Experts agree that due to the geographic region and their historic provenance tying them directly to Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the “Pearl Coast” during this third voyage in 1498, the excellent condition the individual pearls are in, despite their age, that this treasure is worth in excess of 100 million US$.
The world record attempt for GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® was streamed live on YouTube on June 14, 2021, from the city of New York in USA and took approximately 45 minutes. More information can be found on the YouTube channel The Columbus Pearls. Barry S. Block and Antoinette L. Matlins, two expert gemologists witnessed and performed the counting and verification of the pearls under strict measures of security.
Block, GG, CSM, NAJA, ASA, AGA is a master gemology appraiser and the CEO of Jewelry Judge. Matlins, PG, FGA, is an internationally respected gem and jewelry expert, author and lecturer. She has appeared on ABC, CNN, NBC, Oprah, CNBC and other media. Among other books, she has authored “The Pearl Book,” which is now in its 4th edition.
“The Columbus Pearls” are saltwater pearls, mainly from Pinctada species, typical to have been found in the region during the Columbus era and they were found to be in excellent condition, preserving most of their luster and appearance despite their age. Carbon dating revealed that they are between 500 and 550 years old.
Testing results concluded that the pearls are Pre-Columbian to Columbian era and were identified as a type produced by a mollusk unique to the Caribbean within an area from the coast of Brasil to Panama probably from the Southern Caribbean area, which in the fifteenth century became to be known as the “Pearl Coast”. This pearl treasure has direct ties to the third voyage of Columbus and his arrival on the American continent.
Gary L. Smith, Forensic Gemologist® / Forensic Jeweler™, Gemstone & Jewelry Investigations, Past President ~ ASA International, G.I.A.-G.G., A.G.S.-C.G.A., A.G.A.-A.S.G., A.S.A., Master Gemologist Appraiser®, who not only examined and tested several of the “The Columbus Pearls” collection, but after doing so, expressed the following:
…”In my experience dealing with ancient artifacts and jewelry for over half a century as a forensic expert, gemologist and appraiser, I have had the opportunity to examine numerous ancient pearl items from various excavations and collections.
“The Columbus Pearls” Collection is unique in several aspects as the sheer number, quality and age is beyond anything I have ever examined.
The majority of other ancient pearls are highly calcified with little or no nacreous surface, whereas many of these are in incredible condition for their age”…
Dr. Kenneth Scarratt, a notable British gemologist, pearl expert and authority on the British crown jewels expressed:
“…no transformation to calcite was observed externally. Many larger, and some smaller, pearls revealed multiple growth structures. Chemical analysis of the samples confirmed their saltwater origin…Macroscopic, spectroscopic and luminescence data suggest that most of the pearls are likely from the mollusc P.imbricata complex and the rest from Pteria sp…”
Pearls are the rarest of rare gems, revered by humans for thousands of years and these pearls are of particular historic and economic importance. During the fifteenth and sixteenth century, pearl exports from the America’s exceeded 54 million carats (11 tons), more than all the other exports combined (gold, emeralds, spices, etc); pearls were also used as commodity in the New World, making them the first official financial instrument.