A Shiny World of Pearls
For centuries all over the globe, people have loved and treasured pearls. Women for their beauty and how they look wearing pearls and men for the money they can make from selling pearls. To be able to sell or purchase pearls one has to know the many different things about them such as size, shape, color and most important the difference between “natural” and “real” pearls. The most prized pearls are the ones which are formed by saltwater mollusks usually oysters. Pearls have many different cultural, social and religious meanings and they have played an important role in many cultures.
Ancient Cultures – Practically all cultures look upon pearls as a symbol of luxury and wealth. Pearls are thought to be gifts for royalty and as a tribute to gods in ancient Asian literature. There are certain Chinese myths which suggest that pearls were once formed in the brains of dragons while other myths suggest that pearl luster was so powerful that it could cook rice. Among other beliefs, the Chinese had was that pearls had the power to protect them from fires and other disasters. They were believed to be good luck charms in Japan. Pearls were associated with the moon by early Greek and Roman cultures and Persian myths went on to describe pearls as being the tears of god and looked upon them as a symbol of hope.
Symbol of Health – A lot of cultures have considered pearls to be symbols of health and well being. Pearls were often ground up to make a powder and used in medicine. In Asia, ancient cultures would use pearls to treat weak eyes and as antidotes for poisons. In China, it was believed that pearls could be a cure for deafness. In Arabia, doctors made use of pearls to remedy heart conditions and nerve problems. There are some European texts from the Middle Ages which show that pearls were used as a cure for depression and insanity.
Other symbolism – There are quite a lot of cultures which associate the pearl with purity. Therefore pearls are usually referred to as wedding ornaments or gifts to brides. Pearls not only symbolize a bride’s innocence and honesty but are also seen as symbols of a happy marriage.
Colors and Meaning – White pearls have always been associated with purity and innocence. Black and gold pearls symbolized success and prosperity while gold pearls were associated with wisdom. Those which are rose-colored are looked upon as symbols of a strong and passionate heart and the pearls which have a silver luster are at times thought to be symbols of patience, self-control, and dignity.
Faith – It is known that pearls have been valued for their unusual and spiritual powers and perfection. The ancient Egyptians would bury their dead with pearls as they were looked upon as symbols of rebirth and regeneration. In the Koran, pearls have been described as being the perfect reward that can be found in Paradise. Buddha is often seen holding a pearl and many believe that the pearl is a symbol of his power. In Christian texts, pearls have often been used in order to represent God’s word as well as the kingdom of God specifically referring to Heaven’s pearly gates.