Upcoming Pearl Society Event: Sun. July 22, 2012 from 3 - 5 pm at the Eve J. Alfillé Gallery & Studio
Following his highly entertaining 2011 talk on the Wisconsin Pearl Rush, historian and journalist George Johnson will be returning to The Pearl Society on Sunday, July 22, 2012 from 3 to 5 pm with friend and fellow pearl aficianado Norm Lange to host a lively lecture and discussion titled "Wisconsin Pearl Stories."
When word got around that there were pearls to be found in the Mississippi and its tributaries, there was a big rush, similar to the Gold Rush; and until recently this was never truly documented. Johnson who spoke to our membership about the “American Pearl Rush: Its Wisconsin Beginnings” in March of 2011 had then, just published his article “Wisconsin’s Pearl Craze” on that subject in the Spring '12 edition of Wisconsin Magazine of History.
This will be a continuation of the Pearl Rush, including stories of individual pearls and together with Norm Lange, they will go into some detail about the identification and collecting of our natural pearls.
Mr. Johnson will be signing copies of the Spring 2012 edition of Wisconsin magazine of history issue which has his article “Wisconsin’s Pearl Craze” The first 40 attendees will receive a free copy of this issue!
As many of you know, Natural American pearls were extremely highly valued in the nineteenth century, especially in the Art Nouveau era when the asymmetrical forms of nature were favored. Most of the jewels from that era in European museums are set with beautiful American natural pearls, as opposed to the round Oriental pearls (from the Persian gulf and Ceylon) which were used before.
Of course, once the rush took place, the pearl-bearing mussels took a long time to recover, and Wisconsin pearls now are very few and far between, especially with ongoing pollution. As Mr. Johnson wrote in his article, "Today all collecting of clams for any purpose is against the law in Wisconsin and surrounding waters, with one exception..." They allow carefully regulated harvests by professional divers for use as nucleii in the far Pacific cultured pearl industry. So we treasure the natural American pearls we have!