Of all the pearl varieties, black pearls are the most intriguing. They appear cold and aloof, yet at the same time they seem to mysteriously invite us in. The very term black pearl seems a contradiction in terms!
The only true black pearls are those found in Tahiti, known as Tahitian pearls. All others on the market have been dyed to obtain this color. As black pearls were typically worn by royalty and the upper echelons of society in the past, this earned them the moniker ‘queen of pearls’, adding to its aura of mystery.
Over time, black pearls were assigned various symbolism and meanings. There are many myths and legends connected to the origin of this beautiful pearl variety making it even more intriguing. Let’s take a look at the most common meanings and symbolism associated with the black pearl.
Black Pearl Origin Stories
There are many stories that speak of the origin of black pearls.
One interesting one states that when Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden, they wept bitter tears. These tears became a lake of pearls. Accordingly, Eve wept white pearls and Adam wept black ones. Because men weep less than women, this explains why black pearls are very rare.
According to the Chinese, pearls were formed not in oysters but in the heads of dragons! They believed that dragons were infinitely wise and therefore a black pearl became a symbol of this wisdom. To obtain the pearls, you had to slay the dragons.
Black Pearl Symbolism
Wealth and Prosperity
Black pearls have always symbolized wealth and prosperity. This might have stemmed from the fact that black pearls in nature are incredibly rare, therefore owning one would have been a luxury. Although today black pearls are much more affordable due to Tahitian pearl cultivation and pearl color treatments, the association with wealth still remains.
According to the Chinese, natural black pearls symbolize wisdom. Giving someone a gift of a black pearl is akin to wishing them wisdom.
Black pearls are often associated with everlasting love and therefore are an ideal symbolic gift to a loved one. Legend has it that Oro, a Polynesian god of fertility and peace, gifted a black pearl to his beloved. Even today, this view that a black pearl symbolizes love persists.
Tears and Sorrow
Not all symbolism associated with black pearls are positive. There is a superstition surrounding pearls, stating that pearls, whatever the color, are unlucky as they represent tears. As a result, they it is believed that they shouldn’t be given as gifts or worn on a wedding day as they will bring sorrow and tears to your life and marriage. Regardless of this myth, many brides choose to wear pearls on their wedding day.
Some other meanings of black pearl is that it represents protection, independence and strength. There are many meanings of black pearls, some of which are contradictory. At the end of the day, go with what you feel black pearls mean to you.