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Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Meaning of Pearls

Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but for me it’s always been pearls. All gems have attributed meanings and qualities, especially when we look at birthstone definitions.

Pearl’s origin and meaning:
"The pearl is the oldest known gem, and for many centuries it was considered the most valuable. Unlike all gems, the pearl is organic matter derived from a living creature - oysters and mollusks.

It was said in some early cultures that the pearl was born when a single drop of rain fell from the heavens and became the heart of the oyster. Pearls have been called the 'teardrops of the moon.'

Some believe that pearls were formed by the passage of angels through the clouds of heaven.

Over time, the pearl has become the symbol of purity and innocence and it is often sewn into bridal gowns, or worn as jewelry by the bride."

I’ve never been a diamond girl. Pearls suit me better and represent singular moments in my life. At 22, fresh out of college, I received my first strand of long, lustrous, cultured pearls as an engagement gift.

My fiancé and I shopped at Marshall Fields for the perfect strand to wear at the engagement party his aunt was giving me in the Chicago suburbs, a gathering for her friends to meet her nephew’s bride-to-be.

The pearls stood for his love and commitment. Pearls were also sewn on to the bodice of my wedding gown.

The next time I received pearls they came directly from the Orient. My second, shorter pearl necklace was strung with more refined, dainty pearls.

They were sent from my Army husband from Hong Kong where he, like so many other soldiers of that era, spent an RandR from their tours of duty in Vietnam.

The pearls arrived along with a 12-place setting of porcelain china, and the latest stereo and camera equipment of the time. Most GI’s sent similar care packages to their waiting wives in the late ‘60s.

When I turned 40, elegant pearl earrings were gifted to me again, this time from a new love for my birthday. The problem was that the earrings were pierced, and my ears weren’t.

The pearls were beautiful, and I had only one choice. I dreaded the thought of punching holes into my earlobes, but I could hardly wait to wear the earrings.

My teenage daughter accompanied me to the mall to get the job done. She held my hand, like a patient mother, as the stapler popped the openings for my new pearls of love to rest.

The pearls joined my collection, and my daughter enjoyed them too when she wore them for special occasions.

At 47 when I married the second time, I thought it was only fitting that my daughter, my maid of honor, should have her own pearl earrings. They were my gift to her on that day of love. Pearls were sewn onto the sleeves and hem of my tea-length bridal gown.

I have added to my pearl treasures over the years. They stay cloistered together in their own jewelry box, and I still favor them over other gems.

They connect me to wonderful memories and gifts of love. Over the years, my affection and fascination for pearls has deepened.

I’m especially drawn to pearls that are irregular, created in an emerging state and preserved in the process of transformation. They are known as blister pearls, "mabe (ma-bay) pearls" grown in a Mabe oyster.

I still love traditional pearls but find a different kind of beauty in the unique shapes and free forms of the blister pearl. Unlike the attempt at perfection of the cultured pearl, they are imperfect and more interesting reminders of life itself.

"Eastern cultures believe that pearls symbolize purity and spiritual transformation. Simply wearing a pearl reminds the wearer to be honest, pure, wise, and to walk with the utmost dignity."

From the Meaning of Pearls:

Copyright © Erana Leiken, 2009 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Photo of Strands of Pearls by wemedge


  1. You are indeed the mother of luminous mother of pearl cloud.
    I love you Mommy.

  2. And you are my Hope Diamond, the most beautiful diamond in the world:)