What an awesome time I had learning about pearls in Uruguay. It all started with a request to teach a local Girl Scout Troop about pearls. These local middle school girls have been learning about women in business AND they have been learning about value. How do you value things? How do you increase the value of things? All very right up my alley!! We had an amazing morning talking about pearls and making jewelry.
But, what I really loved an appreciated was learning about pearls in Uruguay from their leader, Elizabeth. Elizabeth is a native of Uruguay and was wearing the pearl earrings she received for her 15th birthday. Although now older (and mother to a 10 year old!), Elizabeth said back in the day, 15 was a big birthday year for girls in Uruguay. I am sure it still is but Elizabeth could only speak to her own experience. She said every girl looked almost the same up to her 15th birthday. No makeup, no jewelry, no haircuts. All girls wore their hair long. And then when their fifteenth birthday comes, girls can suddenly cut their hair, wear makeup and jewelry and otherwise spread a little bit of their own style and individuality. We have many Mexicans in our area and I asked her if it was similar to quinceañera, the big parties that Mexicans have for their fifteen year old girls. Elizabeth felt it was more subdued in Uruguay.
The most interesting thing she had to say was every single girl received a pair of pearl earrings for her fifteen birthday. She said it was a nice, treasured gift. Fancy without being overly showy and incredibly practical. Again, twenty five or so years later, Elizabeth is still wearing her stud earrings! She said it was a thing... pearls in Uruguay! She actually expressed her surprise that it wasn't even bigger here which makes me wonder ... if she doesn't think pearls are a big deal here, what is happening in Uruguay!? Pearls must be HUGE!