Have you ever wondered how do pearls appear?
The natural pearl is formed when a bivalve mollusk is “disturbed” by a parasite, a tiny grain of sand or any other foreign body that accidentally gets inside it.
In order to protect themselves, the mollusks start to secrete nacre. It floods and dresses the “intruder” in layers; this is why sometimes pearls do not have a perfectly round shape.
A pearl is sometimes formed in decades, and to find one, hundreds of shells are being open. The precious pearl does not require polishing or artificial processing; it is perfect in its pure and natural state.
Colors, from white to pink, yellow or gray, are determined by the temperature of the water and the environment in which shells lived.
Spiritual Meaning of Pearls
The pearl is a symbol of purity, generosity, loyalty, perfection, spirituality, moon, femininity, beauty, tears, mourning and wisdom accumulated through experience. In superstitions of the world, it is said to bring good fortune, wealth, and protection.
Also, it has calming effects, it balances karma, strengthens the relationship of a couple and protects children.
In the Hindu folklore, the pearls were born from dew drops falling down at night in the moonlit ocean. In a Hindu legend, Krishna (popularly known as the flute player or Kanha or the butter-robber) or Vishnu picked up the very first pearl of the ocean to give her daughter, Pandaia, on her wedding day, as a symbol of love, union, and purity.
This legend is the source of an Indian custom where the bride’s father must offer pearls as a gift on the wedding day.
In early Chinese civilization, black pearls were a symbol of wisdom and they were believed to form in a dragon’s head. As soon as they were grown, they came out of the teeth of the dragon. According to a Chinese legend, whoever wanted to get their hands on these pearls had to kill this terrifying creature.
It was not by accident that the Chinese believed that these gems protected against dragons and fire, and they symbolized not only wisdom but also dignity, power and wealth.
The Japanese believed that the pearls were created from the tears of mythical creatures, like sirens, nymphs, and angels.
On the other hand, according to a Persian legend, pearls appeared when a rainbow touched the earth after a storm. Their imperfections were the result of thunder and lightning.
For the Greeks of antiquity, pearls represented the tears of the gods. According to a superstition, they prevented the girls from weeping on their wedding day.
The Egyptians valued these stones so much that they were buried with them. It is said that Cleopatra dissolved a pearl from her earrings in a glass of wine or vinegar which she drunk to show Marcus Antonius that she could devour the fortune of a whole nation in a single sip!
In Christianity, pearls are a symbol of purity. In an early Christian story, these gems are said to be the tears of Adam and Eve when they were cast out of heaven.
It was believed that the white ones had come from Eve’s eyes, while the black ones from Adam’s. Since men have better control of their emotions than women, Adam has shed fewer tears than Eve, which is why black pearls are rarer than white ones.
In Tahiti, black pearls (extremely rare) are associated with a legend about Oko, the god of peace and fertility. He descended to earth on a rainbow in order to deliver a magic shell, called Ufi, to the Polynesian people. He revealed the beautiful black pearl in Ufi and offered it to Princess Bora Bora as a symbol of his love.
Another legend tells the story about how the full moon bathed in the dark ocean. Its rays of light have drawn the shells to the surface, which have dazzlingly shined, covered with heavenly dew. Over time, dew drops have covered the black pearls with bright shades of blue, green, pink and gold.
In the Middle Ages, the pearls were considered sacred by Christians because of their association with religious purity. Early Christians believed that the pearls that covered the Holy Grail made its water pure!
According to the Bible, Matthew 13: 45-46, “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for beautiful pearls. And, when he finds a valuable pearl, he sells everything in order to buy it.”
In Victorian England, these stones were used as mourning jewels because they symbolized tears.
The Quran mentions pearls as great rewards found in paradise and considers them a symbol of perfection.
In many ancient cultures, the pearl was a symbol of the moon and was endowed with magical properties. Its symbolism of femininity derives from its connection with the Moon.
Myths & Legends
According to Mircea Eliade (a professor at the University of Chicago and a historian of religion, philosopher, and fiction writer), the pearl was “born of water,” that is, Spirit, so it represents the spiritual world manifested in the physical.
Although they represent the chastity and beauty of a woman and are preferred by many brides, the association of pearls with tears often recommends against wearing them at weddings, in order to avoid pain and sadness in the future marriage.
Besides, in a Western superstition, it was not auspicious for such stones to be embedded in an engagement ring.
At the same time, it was thought that such gems provide health, long life, prosperity, and good fortune to those who wear them.
Some people were convinced they could be used in love potions.
Other superstitions claim that they could warn about dangers and fight illness and even death. In the past, they held the gift of healing madness, treating jaundice, snake and insect bites.
At the same time, the pearls were seen as a cure for women’s depression, maybe because women were happy when they received pearls as a gift.
Some people considered them an aphrodisiac, and, according to superstition, if they were kept under the pillow, they were able to help a couple conceive a child!