I put together this little exercise for a favorite student who was having some difficulty hearing the difference between the pronunciation of pear and pearl. I can certainly understand that. But they are not only similar in pronunciation. Pears are unusual in that they are one of the few fruits that don’t ripen on the tree. Their sugar content develops after they’re picked, and they ripen from the inside out. Pears have a lot of symbolism in major religions, mostly pertaining to longevity because the tree lives and produces fruit for decades. The Chinese have a superstition that friends and lovers should never share a pear between them, because a divided pear means separation.
Pearls are unusual in that they are not minerals like diamonds and emeralds and rubies, but instead composed of an organic material. They are considered the most feminine of gemstones, just as some cultures consider the pear a feminine fruit. Pearls, like pears, have a lot of symbolism in all the major religions, but to summarize, it is said that pearls represent wisdom acquired through experience. Because pearls vary in colors, they are supposed to help the wearer realize that not everything is black or white, and not everything is set in stone. There is an interesting superstition associated with pearls: they should never be given as a present. The owner should purchase them. If you receive pearls as a gift, you can give the gift-giver some money to turn it into a financial transaction and break the curse of bad luck that the pearls will bring.