The Meaning of Pearls

Posted on June 29, 2014 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

If you celebrated your birthday this month, you're probably aware that your birthstone is the majestic pearl (and Happy Birthday, to you!). Ancient people esteemed pearls for their beauty and rarity--and although we mostly rely on cultured pearls these days, their special magic endures. 
Pearls may be found in a variety of shades, but we often associate white with pearls.  Fittingly, pearls traditionally symbolize purity and innocence and are often sewn into bridal gowns.  This uniquely lustrous stone may also represent new beginnings, another reason for its popularity in wedding attire.

pearls, pearl ring 

Inspired by classic Georgian design, this Onyx and Pearl Radiance Ring features reclaimed gold and four small pearls. Whether you believe pearls are drops of heaven or simply elegant accents, this ring is bound to make a glamorous statement.  


Our love of pearls is nothing new. As early as 200 BC, the Chinese hunted pearls in the South China Sea. The Pandyas of southern India were another pre-Christian group who enjoyed great wealth from the collection and trade of pearls.  
Pearl hunting and trade continued for thousands of years.  While the significance and origin stories surrounding pearls varied between cultures, the beautiful, moonlike stone remained prized.  Across religious texts, however, there’s a common thread of pearl lore: pearls are associated with deities, holiness, and the heavens. 

 pearls, pearl ring, engagement ring



This Vine and Pearl Gold Ring captures the innocence traditionally associated with pearls. A beautiful ring for an engagement or a formal affair.  


For example, Lord Vishnu of the Hindu tradition wears a pearl on his chest.  In the Book of Mathew in the Christian tradition, Jesus refers to heaven as a "pearl of great price" while in Revelation, John of Patmos writes that the twelve gates of the New Jerusalem are made with pearl, hence the "pearly gates." In the Qur'an, those who dwell in paradise will be draped in pearls. 

pearl neckalces, pearls

Margerita of Savoy, queen of Italy (1878 - 1900) was famed for her collection of natural pearl jewelry. 

Pearls have remained significant on a secular level, as well. From Russia to Italy, royal women adorned themselves with pearl necklaces and bracelets over the centuries. The same has been true of U.S. "royalty:" Venezuelan president Romulo Betancourt famously gifted Jackie Kennedy with a Margarita pearl necklace (the yellowish Margarita pearls are quite rare and highly valuable). 

 pearls, pearl ring

Pearls are incredibly versatile and seem to complement just about anything. This Green with Envy Pearl Ring combines dazzling glamour with organic beauty inspired by nature. 

Because naturally occurring pearls are rare and therefore forbiddingly pricey, pearl farms (where pearl mollusks are raised for their pearls) now supply nearly all of the real pearls in the jewelry industry.

Although pearl farming makes pearls more accessible, pearl jewelry still offers a touch of refined elegance and class.  Whether they’re used in traditional settings or in more eclectic designs, these softly glowing stones can make the wearer feel like royalty—or at least a well-dressed society lady. 

pearls, pearl ring


Feel regal in this Royal Ruby and Amethyst Twig Ring with bezel set pearls, amethysts, and ruby.


Photos: Barbara Michelle Jacobs, Wikipedia, istock/Valentyn Volkov

Posted in cultured pearls, fun, gem lore, jewelry, pearl history, pearl jewelry, pearls



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