Pearls Exhibition Opens In London

Fri, 09/20/2013 - 05:00
In the picture: A rare selection of natural pearls from the Qatar Museums Authority Collection. Photo © Creutz ----------------------------------------- This autumn the V&A Museum in London explores the history of pearls from the early Roman Empire through to present day with the ‘Pearls’ exhibition. The ‘Pearls’ show celebrates the fact that, across centuries and cultures, pearls have long been associated with wealth, royalty and glamour. The show starts with displays from Roman times when jewels with pearls were a desirable and expensive luxury, regarded as a symbol of wealth and status throughout the Roman Empire. In medieval Europe, pearls appear as symbols of authority on regalia, and as attributes of Christ and the Virgin Mary in jewellery to symbolise purity and chastity. By the Renaissance, portraits reveal that nobles and affluent merchants were adorned with pearls, and that the symbolism was more secular. By the 17th and 18th centuries, pearls had become lavish adornments indicating high social rank. In the 19th century, pearls embellished sentimental jewellery to convey personal messages expressing both love and grief. In the 20th century, pearls adorned the necklines of movie stars and celebrities, indicating the continuing glamour of pearls. Some 200 works of art and pieces of jewellery will be on display at ‘Pearls’, from tiaras to brooches and necklaces to crowns, including ancient Roman jewels dating to 100 AD. Through antiquity, myths and legends surrounded the pearl, and early examples of Roman and Byzantine jewellery reveal how they were used as a sign of power and an indicator of rank in society ‘Pearls’ runs from 21 September 2013 to 19 January 2014.