Pearls have long been renowned for their status of ‘wealth and propriety’. From being used in capes, as a symbol of ‘royal blood’ to being fashioned as part of a statement necklace, the use of them throughout time has been recurrent. While they are often associated with ‘royalty and wealth’, the use of ‘pearls’ were far more significant than modern society might think. In ancient times, the pearl was associated with the ‘moon’; In Vedic ‘text’ the legend states that the pearl was born in ‘Earth’s waters and the heavens powers, birthed through a flash of lightening. Because of the manner of the ‘unification’, the pearl is considered to be the ‘daughter of the moon’. In Western cultures however, the pearl has astrological links to the planet Venus and its Goddess counterpart. The Roman and Greek Goddess Venus is ‘believed to have come from the sea’, just like the humble pearl did too. While its ‘mythological and historical’ merit makes pearls one of the most sought after gems in both the ‘fashion and jewellery world’ pearls also have their place as a ‘symbolic charm’.
The meaning behind each pearl ‘charm’ differs but common themes include fertility, love and power. At Diamond Treats, their range of freshwater pearl pendants is undoubtedly a display of ‘decadence and wealth’, thus buying into the notion that pearls are equated or synonymous with the ideal of power. While the Medieval and Tudor eras banned the ‘common townsfolk’ from wearing pearls- because it was not ‘proper to wear royal or noble gems’, in modern fashion, they are not exclusive to our status or wealth. Indeed anyone, even those who lack income can still wear the humble gem, especially when so many retailers have created cheaper duplicates, to make them accessible to all, regardless of status. Pearls are often mixed with other gems like diamonds, but what makes pearls a girls best friend is how it is the only non-mineral based gem, thus making it ‘organic’. Because pearls ‘derive from the sea, the pearl is instantly more precious than any other ‘gem combined’.
Pearls preciosity has not gone unnoticed by women; we have become embittered with the idea of ‘men wearing them- despite concentrated marketing efforts- and instead have claimed this precious gem as our very own jewel. Although nobility and male royals wore ‘pearl ropes’ as a mark of wealth, we have idealized pearls as being a ‘feminine jewel’. Whether it be because of its connotations with Venus and the Moon-both considered to be female- or because it is associated with ‘fertility’, this classification of femininity is strongly embedded in our cultural psyche. Our cultural psyche is influenced by the cultural traditions and social practices that we partake in to ‘regulate, express and transform’ the human psyche, thus meaning that a pearls ‘cultural resonance’ is purely defined by womanhood. In other words the reason why the ‘pearl’ is so popular with women is because society has defined it as being a symbol of femininity, despite being worn by Royal Kings to indicate the presence of divinity.
Naturally ‘pearls’ are not just confined to the living either. Because the ‘pearl’ is seen as a symbol of ‘wealth’, burials-particularly in Ancient Asian Cultures- used pearls to guide ‘the dead’ on their journey into the afterlife. Mourners would place them in the deceased mouths, because they ‘contained the principle of life’, meaning that their magical properties could extend to the afterlife. While the dead may lay in slumber, it is thought that the ‘divine characteristics’ of the pearl would prevent cosmological disturbance and allow the dead to ‘positively influence’ the fortunes of the living. Because death was seen as a ‘polluting’ element, the act of putting a pearl into a dead persons mouth and lining their burial chamber, meant that it could purify their bodies in time for the afterlife. Ancient Chinese civilizations believed that all dead persons would pass through hell and having a pearl charm, trinket or jewel meant that they could obtain a smooth passing into heaven.
Today pearls remain a central part of our religious, cultural and ethnic customs, although its resonance as a ‘charm’ or symbol has faded over time. Modern women are more likely to wear pearls as an ‘affiliation’ of elegance and grace rather than a symbol of fertility but nevertheless the pearl is still significant to our construction of identity. While necklaces might be more ‘fashion’ orientated as opposed to practical as it was in ancient times, by choosing to wear pearls we are subconsciously asserting our womanhood. What might have started out as a non-dimensional metaphor for ‘respectability’ became a sign of ‘sex appeal’, particularly in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Women like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe used them as an extension of their earthy, sensual allure, creating a stark contrast to political veterans like Margeret Thatcher who wore them to signify ‘cultural power’. So however you choose to ‘wear pearls’-whether it be as a style statement, status symbol or good luck charm- be in control of your own ‘pearl destiny’.
What Are Your Thoughts On Pearls? Do You Wear Them?
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