Natural freshwater pearls were all the rage during the late 19th Century. In 1857, Tiffany & Company famously paid $1500 (huge money back then) for a fine natural pink pearl fished from Notch Brook, New Jersey, inspiring the first big "pearl rush." Natural freshwater pearls are found in pearly mussels living in streams, rivers and lakes throughout the Mississippi River drainage of eastern and midwest United States, and even in the freshwaters of Canada and Mexico. Back in the day, pearly mussels were so plentiful the mussel beds would line the river bottoms for miles. Mother-of-Pearl factories all along the big rivers made buttons and all sorts of decorative objects from the plentiful pearly shells.
Pearls, on the other hand, were much more rare, especially the large smooth symmetrical ones like this. When a really valuable freshwater pearl was found, a "pearl rush" would occur once the word got out -- hundreds of people would flock to the area seeking their fortunes, much like the gold rushes to the Klondike in the 1890's. Like the Gold Rushes, most went home with nothing.
This wonderful Edwardian ring was made by Whitehouse Brothers of Cincinnati, Ohio, one of America's premier makers of filigree style jewelry, founded in 1898. We believe this pearl may have been fished from somewhere nearby, perhaps from the Ohio or Tennessee River. This was one of their early pieces-- Whitehouse is still in business, so they must be doing something right.
Period & Mfg Date: Edwardian, Circa 1900 - 1915
Main Gem Identity: Natural Pearl, Freshwater, Unio species, GIA Identification Report #2195825606
Pearl Shape: Button
Pearl Measurements: ~ 7.65 mm in diameter, depth not measurable
Pearl Color: White body color, pink overtone
Pearl Quality: Excellent- bright luster, clean complexion
Diamond Cut, Weight, Size: 12 Old Mine cuts, ~ 2.45 x 2.35 mm, ~ 1/2 ct tw
Diamond Quality: GHI color, VS – SI clarity
Construction: Die struck and fabricated with filigree
Decoration/Polish: High polish, hand engraved & milgrained
Marks: IRID PLAT, Whitehouse Brother's maker's mark
Total Weight: 6.4 grams
Finger size: 6, can be sized
Edwardian Natural Freshwater Pearl Diamond Platinum Ring