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The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

in collaboration with The Qatar Museums Authority

will open its new exhibition


21 September 2013 –

19 January 2014

(image from thejewelleryeditor.com):

Main Image

The Rosebery Tiara

gold, silver, diamond with natural pearls

by R. S. Garrard, London 1878, from the Qatar Museums Authority

This intriguing and informative presentation will

explore the allure of pearls as expressed in diverse cultures,

dating back thousands of years.

(image from dailymail.co.uk):

Roman gold hair ornament, set with natural pearls, emeralds and sapphires, 3rd Century AD

Hair adornment

gold, pearl

Roman, 3 AD

(image from the jewelleryeditor.com):

Cross pendant in gold with rubies and natural pearls, Germany, 1500-25. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Cross pendant

gold, rubies, natural pearls

Germany, 1500 – 1525


On display are over 200 pieces of pearl jewellery

from ancient Rome to present day.

Included in the exhibition are:

 the pearl drop ear-ring of King Charles I,

(image from dailymail.co.uk):

The exhibition includes a pearl earring worn by Charles I to his execution

(portrait of Charles I wearing the famed pearl-drop ear ring)

which he wore on the day of his execution, January 1649;

the pearl buttons of King George III;

and a cultured pearl necklace gifted to Marilyn Monroe

by her husband and baseball legend, Joe DiMaggio.

A modern piece:

'Frozen': a 2011 piece made from silver nylon and freshwater pearls by Sam Tho Duong

Pearl necklace

by Sam Tho Duong, 2011

Tiaras, necklaces, brooches, rings …

spanning the centuries, countries, wearers

are featured in this comprehensive exhibition.

Portraits of royals and aristocrats adorned in pearl finery

are also included – to offer visuals

of pearls in jewellery and intricately sewn into garments.

(image from dailymail.co.uk):

Doomed: Queen Anne Boleyn, who was executed in 1536, wore a pearl choker with a dangling 'B' pendant

Queen Ann Boleyn

second wife of Henry VII, executed in 1536

famed (among other things) for her pearl choker with ‘B’ pendant

The exhibition also informs on

the processes of pearl farming and harvesting.

a pearl created

A pearl is formed when a mollusc detects

a foreign substance  inside its shell

(from natural parasite or human introduction).

The animal then forms layers of nacre around the irritant.

Nacre is solid, luminous, iridescent

and is noted in an array of colours –

hence the variety of hues, which can be produced.

(image from pearldistributors.com):

pearl types

-produced without any human intervention

-very rare

-of great value

cultured pearls

-produced/cultivated at pearl farms

-mother of pearl nucleus implanted

-mollucs  tended until pearl is formed

-two types:  saltwater pearls, freshwater pearls

saltwater pearls

(image from majestic pearl.com):

-depending on origin, these can be white, cream, gold,

blue, grey, purple, green in colour

-round in shape

-of varied sizes

-higher lustre than freshwater

freshwater pearls

(image from pricepearl.com):

-farmed in freshwater lakes, ponds, rivers

-harvested mostly from China

 -of varied shapes (many oblong in shape)

– of varied colours

-less expensive than saltwater pearls

No need to travel the world to see

exquisite examples of pearls –

in a natural state or crafted in stunning jewellery.

A visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

is all that is required.

Pearls … prized throughout the centuries


21 September 2013 – 19 January 2014

Victoria and Albert Museum, London