When you think about a string of pearls, you likely associate them with sophistication, beauty, and class. Pearls also carry deep spiritual symbolism, embodying elegance, natural beauty, and purity, among many other themes.
Pearls have been used in fashion and jewelry for years, with many of them being rare and quite expensive. In this article, we’re going to dive into the many different spiritual meanings of pearls, as well as their origin, different types, and more.
Origin of Pearls
Pearls are hard, usually round-shaped objects that are commonly produced by shelled mollusks and fossil conulariids (or similar creatures). The animals cultivate pearls in their soft tissues as a way to protect themselves from irritants like harsh sand, pieces of shells, and parasites. Pearls are made of calcium carbonate like aragonite and conchiolin.
The mollusks that create pearls live in either saltwater or freshwater. For example, marine oysters create many of the saltwater variations of pearls, and freshwater mussels create the freshwater variations.
Many ancient civilizations (like the Romans and Egyptians) prized pearls as decorative objects for jewelry and other accessories. Pearls soon became a symbol of wealth, purity, and elegance across various parts of the world.
Types of Pearls and Their Spiritual Meanings
There are many different types of pearls, each carrying its own spiritual meaning. In this article, we’ll discuss the four main types: Tahitian, South Sea, Freshwater, and Akoya.
Tahitian pearls are made from black-lipped pearl oysters (Pinctada margaritifera), which are commonly found across the Indo-Pacific. These pearls have a full-color spectrum. Though they mostly contain black or dark hues, many of them also feature undertones or overtones of various colors, like pink, green-blue, yellow, and silver. In other words, they often reflect a “rainbow” of various shades of colors. Once extremely rare, Tahitian pearls remain some of the most valuable and expensive pearls.
Tahitian pearls are associated with the following spiritual meanings:
- Eternal love. Many cultures and religions viewed Tahitian pearls as symbols of everlasting love. In fact, in Polynesian myths, the Polynesian god Oro gifted the dark-colored pearls to his romantic interests as tokens of love.
- Wisdom. According to Chinese legends and folklore, Tahitian pearls were symbols of deep wisdom. Many believe wearing these pearls attracts wisdom into your life.
- Spiritual blessings. Tahitian pearls are said to represent prosperity and blessings from above, likely due to their rarity and high value.
South Sea pearls are made from white/silver- or gold-lipped pearl oysters (Pinctada maxima), which are known as the world’s largest oysters. These can be found in the waters of Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Japan, and Thailand. Due to their size and scarcity, these pearls are more rare than the other types, making them more expensive as well.
South Sea pearls are associated with the following spiritual meanings:
- Awareness. Because of its apparent link to the Moon, the South Sea pearl represents our awareness, especially as it pertains to our emotions.
- Reputation. The South Sea pearl is often viewed as a symbol of someone’s status and reputation. In other words, when worn as jewelry, it often conveys prosperity and refinement due to its rarity and price.
- Elegance. Many view this pearl as a sign of elegance, as the pearl is used in high-end jewelry.
- Feminine energy. South Sea pearls are often associated with the Moon, which is said to encompass feminine energy, purity, and mysticism.
Cultivated around the world, freshwater pearls are more common than other types of pearls. These pearls come from freshwater mussels in lakes, riverbeds, ponds, and creeks. Most commonly, they’re cultivated in China but also in Japan and the U.S.
Freshwater pearls are associated with the following spiritual meanings:
- Innocence. Many believe freshwater pearls represent purity and innocence, highlighting personal integrity.
- Faith. Freshwater pearls can be symbols of hope and faith for a brighter future and positive blessings.
- Humility. Freshwater pearls can serve as reminders to remain humble despite your status.
- Harmony. The freshwater pearl is often touted as an emblem of peace, tranquility, and harmony.
Known for their near-perfect round shape, Akoya pearls come from Akoya pearl oysters (Pinctada fucata). These pearl oysters are found in shallow waters across the Indo-Pacific. Akoya pearls aren’t known to be as rare or valuable as Tahitian or South Sea pearls, but they’re still gorgeous, elegant, and often pricy.
Akoya pearls are associated with the following spiritual meanings:
- Positivity. Akoya pearls are said to clear negative emotions and energies, leading to more positive manifestations.
- Clarity. Many believe Akoya pearls help you sort through matters of the heart. This assists with gaining clarity, especially on personal and emotional issues.
- Happiness. This type of pearl is said to represent joy, especially in the little things.
- Natural beauty. Akoya pearls often embody the idea of natural beauty and purity.
Symbolism of Pearls
Here is the specific symbolism associated with pearls.
Wealth and Prosperity
Many people view pearls as symbols of good luck. Due to their elegant appearance and value, they perfectly encompass the idea of prosperity. In fact, pearls used to be so rare that many royal figures had to wear fake pearls to try to forge a prosperous image.
Love and Affection
Often gifted as tokens of love and adoration, pearls symbolize deep romantic love. Many associate pearls with the affection we might feel for a romantic partner. They also embody the idea of true, everlasting love.
Wisdom and Experience
Pearls have long been tied to the idea of inner wisdom that stems from experience. To gain knowledge, we often have to endure trying or complex times that gift us with the proper clarity to move forward. Pearls encapsulate this inner wisdom and intuitive knowledge.
Protection and Security
Mollusks create pearls as a form of defense against irritants. That being said, it’s no surprise many view pearls as symbols of protection. In fact, some even believe wearing pearls will keep you safe from negative energies and attract security, abundance, and love.
Innocence and Purity
Due to their simple yet elegant appearance, pearls often represent purity and inherent beauty. They’re tokens of innocence often worn by women who are seen as “pure.” In fact, in some religions and cultures, pearls can be interpreted as signs of chastity.
Integrity and Modesty
Though pearls often indicate elegance and wealth, they also serve as reminders to remain modest and humble in our success. Pearls — especially the milky-white ones — don’t demand attention. They possess a gentle, undeniable beauty without an outwardly vibrant array of colors. Just like pearls, we can own our accomplishments and step into our power without the need to overshadow anyone else.
Feminine Energy and Emotions
Many people associate pearls with the Moon. The ocean and other bodies of water (where pearls are formed) are impacted by the Moon’s pull. Additionally, some pearls have a milky white color and round shape that can be compared to the full moon.
Regardless, this association gives pearls the symbolism of feminine energy. As the Moon goes through its lunar cycles throughout each month, so do women with their menstrual cycles. Each phase can stir up different emotions. In fact, the Moon is believed to directly impact our emotions, with a full moon supposedly causing us to feel more deeply.
Pearls are known as more than just beautiful pieces of jewelry. As you’ve learned above, they carry deep symbolism and spiritual meanings that only add to their value.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © triocean/Shutterstock.com
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