In working with one of our new brides on several of her wedding options, she indicated that she had long time wondered why pearls are so often associated with weddings and why pears so often adorn wedding gowns. So here is a little history of pearls and weddings.
According to the Cultured Pearl Information Center, "pearls were most likely discovered thousands of years ago by people searching for food along the seashore. And thanks to their fabulous shimmering iridescence, this organic gem has been prized ever since. Beautiful and elegant, pearls have long been the symbol of purity, class, and style. Pearls are the most well-known among most gems. They are the only gem made by a living animal and is one of the few gemstones that require no cutting or polishing. In ancient Rome, the pearl was the ultimate symbol of wealth and social standing, while the ancient Greeks associated the pearl with love and marriage, and unrivaled beauty."
Since ancient times, the pearl has been a symbol of unblemished perfection. It is the oldest known gem, and for centuries it was considered the most valuable. Pearls have been considered ideal wedding gifts because they symbolize purity and innocence. In Greek society it was believed the pearl would promote marital harmony and prevent newlywed brides from crying. During the Dark Ages, knights wore pearls on the battlefield, believing they had the magic to protect them from harm. During the Renaissance, pearls were so highly regarded that several European countries passed laws forbidding anyone outside the nobility from wearing them. In the early 1900s, the advent of culturing pearls brought prices down to mainstream levels. But even today, pearls are still worn by royalty, especially at weddings.
"From Queen Elizabeth I to our modern Queen Elizabeth II, the tradition of wearing pearls on the wedding day has continued. At the beginning of the 20th century, pearls were as much a nuptial gem in the United States as diamonds are today. With the invention of plastic and cutting glass, the embellishment of pearl and faux diamonds became available and were soon used as adornment for wedding wear."
As things progressed and more gold and silver were added to the wedding attire which for brides by then was almost always ivory or white. With the advent of faux pearls and faux glass as diamonds, gown adornment moved away from sometimes lavish and intricate sewn designs to more surface application of shinny and sparkling applique including shimmering iridescence of various shaped pearls and diamonds.