HOME NEW Pearl Education Beading Q & A Tools Jewelry Tech Video Jewelry Glossary

Pearl History in The World

In many countries or regions of the world, as long as there are pearls, there must be a beautiful story about pearls. Take a break and read these beautiful legends inspired by pearls.

Nobody knows when someone first pried open an oyster and found a pearl. With its soft, rainbow-hued inner radiance, that first pearl must have seemed like a magical gift from the gods. Pearls are unlike other gemstones because they do not have to be cut and polished to enhance their natural beauty—they grow into it on their own. No wonder pearls have been prized ever since for their beauty, perfection, and rarity.

For thousands of years, pearls have been the exclusive gemstones of royalty and nobility in every culture. In China, they were used for over five thousand years to decorate the crowns of emperors, the robes of noblewomen, and the sacred statues of the Buddha.

Pearl History in The World

In ancient Rome and medieval France, only the aristocracy were allowed to wear pearls. In Elizabethan England, only royalty could wear them. Pearls became associated with wealth, status, and power, and ordinary people began to desire them as symbols of these things. Throughout history, millions of people have yearned to wear pearls.

The ancient Egyptians prized pearls so much they were buried with them. Reportedly, Cleopatra dissolved a single pearl in a glass of wine and drank it, simply to win a wager with Marc Anthony that she could consume the wealth of an entire country in just one meal. Throughout the world history, different cultures have assigned various other meanings to pearls.

An Old Arabic legend romantically explains that the pearls formed when moonlight filled dew drops descended down from the sky into to oceans and were swallowed by oysters.


In ancient Greece, pearl was thought to be associated with love and marriage. The legend of Venus/Aphrodite (Goddess of love, beauty and pleasure), who came out of the sea with water droplets turning into pearls, implies that pearls hold all the "charms" of the love goddess.

The Ancient Hebrews believed that pearls had been used by God to decorate the Garden of Eden. Roman ladies believed that pearls were lucky and attracted wealth. In China, pearls are symbolic of the incomparable beauty of the legendary pearl maiden, XiShi (or Shecy).

Throughout almost all of recorded history, pearls were far too valuable and rare for any but the royalty and aristocracy to afford. However, due to advances in pearl cultivation, growing and harvesting technology, pearls are now affordable and accessible to everyone. Today, you can wear the same string of pearls that only a queen could wear two hundred years ago. Pearls are still cherished today as lovely jewelry. They make tasteful gifts, and are usually passed down as treasured heirlooms for generations.

Famous pearls in the world

The Pearl of Lao-tze

The Pearl of Lao-tze found by an anonymous Muslim Filipino diver off the island of Palawan in 1934 is the largest pearl in the world. In 1936 Wilbur Dowell Cobb was given this pearl as a gift by a chieftain of Palawan for having saved the life of his son

Pearl of Asia

Was found in 17th century India. After the siege of Delhi it became the property of the King of Persia (present-day Iran), who in turn gave it to Chinese Emperor Qianlong.

The Imperial Hong Kong Pearl

The Imperial Hong Kong Pearl was formed in Pinctada Maxima. The Pearl origins are unclear it is believed to have once belonged to the Royalty of China and Purchased by Imperial in Hong Kong in the 1940s

Hope pearl

The Hope pearl is a white drop-shaped freshwater blister pearl of 1,800 grains (450 carats or 4 oz). One of the largest saltwater pearls in existence , the Hope Pearl was first acquired by Henry Philip Hope in the 19th century. It is on display at the British Museum of Natural History.