Pearls are the gems which are least interfered with by humans, as many are worn almost in the same state that they emerged from the sea or lake when they were found. Due to the scarcity of Natural Pearls [conservative estimates as 2-3 pearls yielded per 5,000 oysters] and their natural beauty, evident at the time of their discovery, it is not surprising that pearls were the ultimate symbol of wealth.
In Roman times pearls were the badge of choice for the wealthiest, it is recorded that roman citizens requested that Caesar declare that pearls could be worn only by patrician women, as commoner husbands were being driven bankrupt by their wives lust for pearls.
Pearls were also used as the cure all remedy for those who could afford it, form the Middle Ages, we have records describing how in the Renaissance Lorenzo de Medici was cured from a fatal bout of fever, by drinking pearls dissolved in lemon juice. Later on we find records of yet another use for pearls, again purely for the wealthiest tier of society – an aphrodisiac – A notable example of the avid pearl consumer was Louis XIV, he would always consume a pearl tea before retiring for the evening, it consisted of lemon juice, crushed pearl, honey and cinnamon.