If you have a string of white heirloom pearls in your family, you’ve probably heard a few of these myths. Here are some of the myths, legends and beliefs associated with white pearls – and the real story behind them!
Not true at all – in fact, where a pearl is cultured (in the ocean or in freshwater) plays no role in the shape or color it takes. It’s the type of oyster that determines the color – and white pearls can be cultured or natural, freshwater or saltwater pearls.
In some cases, pearls are dyed or bleached to get a certain hue. But pearls do naturally occur in a range of colors, from lavender and champagne to pink and black. These colors are determined by the color of the lip of the oyster that the pearl is formed in, as well as naturally occurring pigments inside the oyster shells. This means that a violet Edison pearl is just as ‘pure’ or real, with no colorants, as a naturally white pearl.
In fact, white pearls are the most common and therefore colored pearls are usually more expensive. But color is not the only thing that determines the price – how a pearl is grown, naturally or cultured, and what the quality of the pearl is, are bigger factors. A natural white pearl would be more expensive, for example, than a cultured colored pearl.
While pearls in the Roman empire used to be worn to symbolize purity, chastity and the Virgin Mary, they have increasingly become a sign of wealth. Today they are more a sign of material wealth, possessions, your status in society, authority and even fame, than anything else. Women and even men of all ages can be seen wearing pearls – flaunting their status as pop stars, wealthy businessmen and women, models, mothers or brides. The truth is that you can interpret the different symbols associated with a white pearl in any way you choose – and there are many!
Because Venus was believed to be born from the ocean like pearls, they were often associated with her astrologically. But they’ve also been said to be the tears of the gods because of their shape, color, rarity and their association with purity, holiness, fertility and innocence. The last two mentioned are also qualities associated with Venus.
Because pearls come from the ocean and are similar in shape and color to the moon, they’ve been called the daughter of the moon, or moon ‘drops’.
One of the most beautiful myths about pearls is a Persian legend that says that pearls are the offspring of wild weather patterns, made when a rainbow meets the earth after a storm. Lighting and thunder were believed to be responsible for any imperfections on the pearl. Today we know how pearls are really formed, but wouldn’t it be nice if this was true?