When it comes to high-end jewelry, pearls are popular across many cultures. This is partly due to the fact that they have a long history and are steeped in mythology and symbolism. If you’re looking for the perfect piece to keep in your family for generations, learning more about this gem may convince you to choose it. Here is a guide to the rich past of pearls and how they’re used in different traditions.
The History & Symbolism of Pearls
Why They’re Valuable
The earliest mention of pearls dates back to 2206 BC, when a Chinese historian documented its use. Even though the pearl is often referred to as a gemstone, it’s not accurate to describe it as a stone. This is because pearls are not minerals you can mine. Instead, they’re the products of mollusks, including oysters and clams, and can be found in both saltwater and freshwater sources.
Due to the effort required to obtain them, they have long been considered one of the most valuable forms of jewelry. Since they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, creating necklaces and items with these gems is also a laborious process. Each unit must match the others exactly.
Their Symbolism in Different Cultures
Pearls come in a variety of colors, although the most common option is white. Custom jewelry made from white pearls is often worn by brides and conveys the idea of purity and innocence. The black pearl is highly valued in Polynesian mythology. According to the legend, Lono, the god of fertility and music, descended upon a rainbow, carrying black pearls to present to his princess. For that reason, the black pearl is said to possess all the colors of the rainbow.
In Chinese cultures, the gold pearl is highly valued. It symbolizes prosperity and luck, which is why dragons are often seen clutching golden pearls in their claws. Some Chinese legends even claim that pearls fall from the heavens as dragons fight, suggesting that the jewelry crafted from them is divinely inspired.
Serving the Hudson Valley and New York area, Somos Designer Jewelry Gallery offers jewelry for every occasion and budget. As a family business, they know that each piece is something to be cherished through generations. Whether you want a ring crafted from your birthstone or are looking for an engagement ring, they will be happy to assist. View some of their pearl jewelry online or call (845) 348-0800 to discuss their inventory.