History of pearls to wow at autumn V&A exhibition

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More than 200 items of pearl jewellery and objects to go on show.

The V&A museum in London is set to host a large-scale historical exhibition of more than 200 pieces of pearl jewellery and pearl objets d’art.

The showcase will open in September with an array of historical pearl jewellery, artwork and objects including tiaras worn by European nobility and cultured pearls owned by Marilyn Monroe.

The exhibition, titled Pearls, promises to showcase "the extraordinary variety of colour and shape of natural and cultured pearls", examining how pearls have been used over the centuries in both Eastern and Western design as a symbol of status and wealth.

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It will explore Mikimoto’s cultured pearl process and the history of pearl fishing, as well as Carl Linnaeus’ 18th century experiments used to produce cultured pearls.

Pearls will take jewellery design as its central focus, showcasing pearl jewellery from ancient Rome, made as early as the first century AD, through to pieces created using melo pearls in 2011.

There will be examples of Roman and Byzantine jewellery, Medieval pearl creations and jewels from the Renaissance period.

Other designs include an Art Deco brooch by Jean Fouquet and figurative creations made using pearls by Geoffrey Rowlandson, as well as tiaras formerly belonging to the British and European high nobility, such as the Rosebery Tiara (pictured), and Elizabeth Taylor’s Bulgari pearl-drop earrings.

The Pearls exhibition has been organised in partnership with the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) and will be the highlight event of the Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture. It has been co-curated by independent jewellery historian and curator Beatriz Chadour-Sampson and Hubert Bari, director of the Pearl and Jewellery Museum at QMA.

Pearls opens on September 21 and runs until January 19 2014, with tickets priced at £10.
 

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