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Home / Education / Blog / Popular Stories / The History and Symbolism of Pearl Jewellery

The History and Symbolism of Pearl Jewellery

Author: D&P | 2023-07-31

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As delicate and fragile as they are, pearls hold great significance — and remain ever popular gifts for weddings, graduations or even anniversaries. In fact, throughout the 1900s, pearl jewellery was considered the epitome of sophistication and grace, and was often found in the jewellery collections of many women.

From black to white, freshwater to sea, necklaces and earrings to bangles and beyond — pearls in any form (and type) are always a timeless classic. But underneath all that lustre and glimmer, lay fascinating symbolism and meaning. Let’s explore.

The Symbolism of Pearl Jewellery

Forget the old adage “pearls for tears.” Ancient civilizations, religions, and metaphysics all share a single core belief — pearl jewellery is an emotional symbol of beautiful transformation.
Across East Asia, pearls have long been prized as symbols of purity, wealth, and integrity. Japanese tradition sees a white pearl as an ideal gift for a young woman's transition to adulthood (often given on her twentieth birthday). In Chinese culture, pearls were believed to symbolise wisdom or spiritual enlightenment, and were often depicted in a dragon’s maw.

Pearls make for the perfect 30th wedding anniversary gift, while June babies favour them too. Such is their versatility that they appeal to countless different tastes and beliefs.
And with their divinely ethereal hues, able to enchant and lighten up even the most glum and dull of moods — pearls hold a special place in the heart. Known as the “Queen of Gems”, pearls have been used to represent innocence, beauty, and romance. However, it's important to note that their symbolism is not consistent across all cultures: in some places, pearls are still seen as a bad omen when given as a wedding gift, as they’re believed to bring sadness in a marriage.


Types of Pearls

types of natural pearls from Diamond and Platinum MalaysiaThere are two types of pearls: natural and cultured. As the name implies, natural pearls form naturally in oceans and freshwater environments, and are exceptionally rare. For this reason, purchasing a natural pearl can come with a hefty price tag (even more so for perfectly round ones), making them not affordable to most.

Today, most pearls you’ll find on the market are cultured. But make no mistake: these are authentic pearls, with the same level of shine and beauty as their natural counterparts — just without the extremely high cost. Cultured pearls are grown in a controlled environment, which sets the initial stage for their formation, but the rest of the process remains entirely natural.

Cultured pearls come in four main varieties: Akoya, South Sea, Tahitian, and Freshwater.

Akoya Cultured Pearls

Akoya cultured pearls are produced primarily in Japan and China. Popular among pearl connoisseurs across the world, these saltwater gems are generally round, small, and white with a glossy lustre. Our Twirl Pearl Diamond Earrings feature these pearls, juxtaposed against dazzling diamonds for a truly dazzling look.

South Sea Pearls

South Sea pearls are sourced from areas such as Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. These cultured pearls are cherished for their seductively whitish and golden hues, as well as their remarkable sizes.

Tahitian Pearls

Tahitian pearls, which are cultivated around the islands of French Polynesia, are widely known as 'black pearls' for their choice of shades — think grey, black, brown, blue, green, and purple.

Freshwater Cultured Pearls

Freshwater cultured pearls are by far the most widely available on the market. These are cultivated in lakes and rivers across China, and offer a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colours for shoppers. And, thanks to mass production, they’re a more accessible option compared to other, pricier varieties.


Elevating Your Look With Pearl Jewellery

Pearls have been widely associated with formal occasions due to their classically soft and elegant appearance. However, they can still add a touch of grace to an everyday outfit, especially when combined with the shine of a diamond. The combination of these two luxurious gems creates an appealing contrast: with the pearl providing a soft and timeless look, while diamonds add a more contemporary and dynamic edge.

white gold necklace with snowman pearl & diamond pendant from Diamond and Platinum MalaysiaFrom a playful pearl and diamond pendant to dramatic pearl-adorned diamond drop earrings — the combination of pearls and diamonds brings with it a special iridescence that’s near impossible to obtain with any other element mined from the earth.

Final Thoughts

At Diamond & Platinum, our exquisite pearl and diamond jewellery collection provides an opulent take on everyday fashion — bringing effortless grace and class to any ensemble. Get a pearl and diamond pendant for a polished daytime look, or an exquisite set of pearl and diamond earrings for a spicy night out. No matter what you go for, with a stunning pearl jewellery piece from Diamond & Platinum, you’re always ready to impress.