If you had to choose an object that’s symbolic of your life, what would it be? Perhaps a 15th century castle to house your romantic thoughts and dreams. Something as fine and fragile as the papery petals of a poppy might represent your current state of mind. Or, maybe a three-masted ship carries your desire to be more adventurous and explore the great unknown.
Claire is hovering between the surnames of Randall and Fraser when we hear her speak about a pearl necklace in Season One’s The Wedding. We hear her thoughts as she glides into the Registry Office with Frank, then looks at her reflection in a mirror while she waits for Jamie.
You forget your life after a while. The life you had before. Things you cherish and hold dear are like pearls on a string. Cut the knot and they scatter across the floor, rolling into dark corners, never to be found again. So, you move on and eventually you forget what the pearls even looked like. At least you try.
While Claire wrestles with her scattered pearls and a life that straddles two centuries, she receives a real, tangible gift from Jamie – a pearl necklace. What are the odds? The necklace is much more than a piece of jewelry, a wedding gift to Claire. In three, short sentences, we learn the symbolic value of the Scottish pearls (tradition, love, commitment, etc.) to Jamie and how deep his love is for Claire, even this early in their relationship.
“They belonged to my mother, and now they belong to my wife.”
“They are one of the few things I have left of her.”
“Very precious to me, as are you, Claire.”
Okay, pull yourself away from the rest of that scene, because our pearl necklace isn’t done yet. Fast forward to Wentworth Prison, where Claire is doing all that she can to rescue Jamie. They’ve taken shelter at the home of Sir Marcus McRannoch who lives near the prison, and the pearl necklace is about to add to its symbolic provenance – an item to be bartered away in exchange for something else.
Could you part with something you deem precious if the situation demanded it? Claire knows what the necklace means to Jamie, but it’s his life she’s trying to save! She can’t afford to be sentimental when she knows Jamie is under the cruel hand of Black Jack Randall at the very moment she pulls it from her pocket. Still, it’s like her mind flashes back to their wedding night when she sees it in her hand. If that wasn’t hard enough, the necklace reveals a bit of its romantic history, courtesy of Sir McRannoch.
“I gave these to Ellen Mackenzie as a wedding gift. I’ve thought of them so often around her bonny neck. I wonder if she ever thought of me while wearing them.” As quickly as hope comes to Claire in using them to help free Jamie, it disappears. Sir McRannoch won’t risk his wife and family to possible Redcoat repercussions, so he hands them back to her, saying, “So, they’re yours now. You’ll wear them in good health.” The pearls and all they represent stay with her – cancel their symbolic role as barter. Do you think a teeny-tiny part of her is happy she didn’t have to part with them?
Season Three and the pearl necklace is back! We got a wee keek on the short, life-saving, Droughtlander-will-soon-end trailer.
Thankfully, they survived intact and unharmed after Claire’s journey back through the stones. It’s probably come to symbolize so much more as life continues without Jamie. Heartache? Resignation? Quiet desperation? Do you think she wears them or does she visit them in private, touching the pearls that Jamie once touched as he placed them on her neck the night they were married?
I can’t wait to see the role those Scottish pearls will continue to play and what else they’ll come to symbolize for Claire. How about you?