The rarity and elegance of pearls make them a stunning gift to give at a wedding. Whether the pearls are for bridesmaids or the bride, they make a beautiful addition to any wedding outfit when worn as earrings or in a necklace.
There are many different types of pearl and they grow in a variety of different shapes, sizes, and colours. The colours of pearls signify different things symbolically, with white pearls suggesting innocence and honesty and pink or rose pearls representing love and friendship.
Before the development of cultured pearls, only natural pearls were available. The only way to find pearls naturally was to manually gather oysters and mussels from the ocean floor and the bottom of lakes – a risky process with low success probability. This is what first gave pearls their status as rare and valuable objects of desire. These days, most pearls are cultured in saltwater farms in Japan, China, and Vietnam.
Fine jewellery specialists at Steven Stone have taken a look at the different types of pearls, explored the tradition of wearing them at weddings and revealed why they make such a perfect bridesmaid gift.
The different types of pearls
Cultured pearls – which are naturally grown stones, organic in shape, size and colour – are available in a few varieties.
Akoya Pearls: Considered to be ‘the classic pearl’, Akoya pearls are the most common of the pearl varieties used in jewellery. They’re known for their round shape, bright luster and neutral colours.
Tahitian Pearls: Tahitian pearls – also known as ‘black pearls’ – come from the black-lip pearl oyster. Mostly unknown until they became commercially valuable in the mid-1900s, they’re now some of the rarest and most expensive pearls in the world.
Freshwater Pearls: Freshwater pearls grown in mussels that live in freshwater rivers, lakes and ponds. Though they lack the shine that the Akoya pearl possesses, they come in very unique shapes and are sought after by jewellers for their eccentricities.
South Sea Pearls: Grown in saltwater by the Pinctada maxima oyster, South Sea Pearls are the rarest and most valuable pearls in the world. Their interior matches the colour of their exterior and they boast thicker nacre layers than other pearls – thus, tend to be bigger in size.
The tradition of wedding day pearls
Wearing pearls at weddings is no new concept. Cultures around the world have used pearls as gifts and adornments in wedding rituals throughout the ages. In ancient Rome, pearls were a symbol of wealth and high social standing due to their rarity. For the ancient Greeks, they symbolised a harmonious marriage.
During the renaissance, laws were put in place that permitted only the Nobles to wear pearls. The meaning of pearls in a wedding was for nobility to display their wealth, power and hierarchy. However, pearls are a symbol of transformation in Eastern cultures, where wearers are seen as pure and dignified.
Giving pearls as a bridesmaid gift
In most cultures, a wedding is a big event. Unlike some other cultural traditions, though, there are plenty of smaller rituals that take place over the course of a wedding. One of these, usually occurring on the evening before the ceremony, sees the bride and bridesmaids present each other with a gift.
Pearls have built a reputation for being ideal gifts for both bridesmaids and brides, as a gift of jewellery is thought to symbolise enduring friendship or sisterhood. If pearls are chosen as a gift for the bridesmaids, they’ll also bring the additional benefit of creating a greater sense of unity in their outfits.
Pearl jewellery also makes the perfect bridal party gift. It’s timeless, classic and eye catching yet still understated. The elegance associated with pearls will go with any outfit or theme and, with a variety of colours and shapes available, you can choose a type that complements the bridesmaids’ dresses or the wedding gown.
If you’re looking for some pearls of your own and would like to browse for inspiration, take a look at our ready to wear collection or chat to one of our team for bespoke creations. We also have a wide range of engagement rings, wedding rings and eternity rings.
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