miss b's quote

'I haven't been everywhere yet but it's on my list' Susan Sontag

Thursday, 23 January 2014

miss b loves ........ pearls and a special exhibition

Tastes in jewellery certainly vary but pearls have fascinated people for thousands of years. Unlike other gems they need no enhancement, no cutting or polishing.

Just before Christmas I visited the Pearls Exhibition at the V&A Museum (in collaboration with the Qatar Museum Authority) to find out more about these objects of desire which have been associated with wealth, royalty and glamour through the ages.....

A portrait of Jeanne de Marigny, about 1650-1660 greeted visitors .....

Pearls were a sign of
 wealth and status

The tour began with X ray images and a video showing the formation of the pearl. Contrary to popular belief, pearls do not form when a grain of sand enters an oyster! A parasite (tapeworm) enters the shell and the mantle then covers the intruder with layers of nacre (mother of pearl) the same substance used to create the shell.

The 'Pearl Fishing in the Gulf' section brought back memories of our trip to Qatar last October. 


The most beautiful natural pearls came from the Gulf and the pearl fishing trade was the mainstay of Qatar's economy until the discovery of oil and gas. Apparently only one pearl would be found in every 2000 oysters!

'Pearl Jewellery through the Ages' showed that across the Roman Empire, pearls were considered a desireable and expensive luxury. In Medieval Europe they became a symbol of perfection and purity. Lavish designs demonstrated high social rank and family status in 17th century Europe.  
Icon with Virgin and Child
including Russian freshwater pearls

As I wandered through the exhibition, a number of stunning pieces caught my eye.

Royal and aristocratic women wore pearls on crowns and tiaras to dazzle and impress .....

The Rosebery Pearl and Diamond Tiara 1878

Many pieces were on loan from the Qatar Museums Authority including this striking one with five graduated strands........

Cartier, 1930-40, diamonds
with natural Gulf pearls

I was fascinated by the design of the Grand Jeté brooch made from two baroque pearls .... 

Grand Jeté brooch
by Geoffrey Rowlandson (born 1931)

The work of Kokichi Mikimoto in Japan was also celebrated. He used a grafting technique to develop the cultured pearl, making pearls more affordable.

Marilyn Monroe wears a cultured pearl Akoya necklace,
 a gift from Joe DiMaggio on their honeymoon in Japan

The exhibition ended with examples of South Sea cultured pearls in an array of colours and a number of contemporary pieces showing that pearl designs really have no limits........

'Frozen' necklace by Sam Tho Duong 2011
 inspired by the effect of frost on natural forms

.........and finally a few favourites from my own pearl 'collection!' 

A couple of very special necklaces which belonged to my Grandma.... The first one still in its original blue velvet box......

 I have always liked the touch of sparkle from the diamanté clasp and the rich colour of these three strands......

A couple of inexpensive contemporary pieces which I bought a while ago in Dubai......

Pearls have often been used through the ages on clothing or as ornaments. 

My Lulu Guiness silk slippers (no longer available).....

'Put on your pearls girls'

In the V&A shop I noticed that beautiful silk scarves in the same design had been specially commissioned.........

You may remember my Kate Spade flats, a birthday gift last year in June. Extra-special as the pearl is my birthstone too! 

Another gift....a box of chocolates, from Pelit in Istanbul, adorned with 'pearls'.......

Elegant, timeless, versatile and universally flattering pearls are truly one of the great wonders of the natural world.

PS  Sadly the V&A exhibiton ended just a few days ago but this short video shows the highlights .......

A display with giant 'pearls'
in the V&A shop

I hope you'll join me next time for Part 2 .......style icons through the decades and how they wear their pearls....... 

*No photos were allowed in the exhibition. Sources and links are included below each image.


  1. I am in love with silver pearls.
    I alweays wear them. I v'e got a pair of pearl earrings (they're cultivated pearls) and a pearl necklace that I wear day and night.
    Have a great day

  2. This looks like a great exhibition to visit and I love your collection of pearls. I adore pearls and think they're so classy but my mum hates them and has always said they are unlucky! She wasn't impressed when I wore them on my wedding day. X

  3. What a lovely and interesting post. I love your shoes, they are divine! x

  4. Wasn't that exhibition great? Such a pity they wouldn't allow photographs though...

  5. It must have been an educational and elegant Exhibition. My birthday is in June too and pearls is my birthstone. I love pearls they are so beautiful and elegant.

  6. Great post!


  7. Interesting post! I think pearls are gorgeous and will never go out of style. Interestingly enough.. I don't have any:( For a time, I had earrings and I'm not sure what happen to them. A single strand is just stunning.

    Hope you are enjoying your week!

  8. I was in Manhattan and wanted to go see The Girl With the Pearl exhibit but the line was 2 hours long! SO I am glad I see pearls here instead!!!

  9. I have been to Mikimoto pearl island in Japan and it was a great experience to see the entire process. I would have loved to visit a exhibition of this sort.

  10. I've never though pearls are so interesting to explore. I love massive necklaces like the one from the picture and the "frozen" one looks so good! I see youi have lots of "pearly" stuff (the flats are a killer!). Pearls definitely give an elegant look to everything!

  11. J'aime bien les perles même si je n'en porte pas.... mais je craque pour les ballerines et les bijoux bons marchés plus faciles à porter!!!
    Belle fin de semaine

  12. I have some pearls but don't wear them very often.

  13. I love pearls!! What a beautiful collection you have here. Your shoes are the one thing that really caught my eye, they are so lovely. How special it is that you now have your Grandma's pearls, and the blue box that comes with them. You know, I wore pearls on my wedding day. It was just one stand, but very elegant.

    Thank you for sharing all your pearl treasures with us. I can't wait to see Part 2 with the styles, as I love fashion.

    Have a nice weekend too, dear friend.


  14. Love pearls, funny how MM makes them love new and fresh!

  15. Lovely to find a new blog and as you can probably tell, I love pearls too!

    Krissie - http://pearlsofstyle.blogspot.com.au/

    1. Thank you Krissie for deciding to follow along!

  16. Hi Miss B! Wish I visited the exhibit too, have watched the video and was amazing! Love pearls too, though I dont wear them very often. Love the tiara and the brooch, but most of all I wa stunned by your own collection, awesome!:) The slippers are so adorable!
    Have a goodnight and also a great weekend ahead dear, kisses! xo

  17. I am definitely a girl who loves her pearls. I received the most beautiful pearl earrings for Christmas.

    Tracy @ Sunny Days and Starry Nights

  18. I have always adored pearls, and I agree they really are timeless. I'm sure the exhibit was spectacular. Your shoes with the pearl embellishments are wonderful! Thanks as always for sharing miss b. Happy weekend. xx/Madison

  19. Very cool, miss b. I did not know that much about pearls, but I know enough to realize I prefer them to diamonds… Coco Chanel would certainly agree with me :-) Thank you for your visit today. Always a pleasure to hear from you. Oh, and I love Marilyn on that pic. She was a special girl, that one! A bientôt. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  20. Hey B! I love pearls, and like to wear mine with jeans and t-shirt. YOu are lucky to have as your birthstone. Thanks as always for checking in at my blog, I was locked out again…must have been my comment about Google;) Looking forward to your part 2! xob

  21. I love pearl earrings! It was only a few years ago when I started wearing earrings made of other materials. If I remember it correctly, in feng shui, wearing pearls during the Year of the Dragon (the last one being in 2012) is considered lucky. The dragon (which brings good luck) is supposedly attracted to pearls and will therefore keep on "chasing" you ;)

  22. Great post! I love pearls, for me they are sign of true elegance of a lady! I have a bracelet, a necklace and a pair of earrings... and love them!

  23. I wish I could have visited this exhibition! Love the Kate Spade shoes, they are gorgeous. Thanks for explaining the pearl formation process.

  24. Very interesting post. I find pearls timeless and elegant. If I were to own only one piece of jewelry, that would be a pearl necklace.

  25. Visiting this exhibit must've been such a treat! And interesting how pearls are actually formed. Your personal pearl collection is quite fabulous!

    Rowena @ rolala loves

  26. Very beautiful and well researched post, darling!


  27. Hello Miss B !!
    this is really interesting post, i like everything but this shoes,,,,, mmmm love it!!
    Thanks for visit my blog You are really lovely

  28. miss b, if I was there, I would've been right there with you. i'm a pearl girl too. i wear a simple strand of pearls and earrings. they go with everything. they're just classy! i love learning the history of things and how they evolve. this was truly interesting. that crown is exquisite! can't wait to read pt 2 :)

  29. I received a pear necklace and earrings for my 21st from my aunt who has since died. Such a beautiful and precious. Lived them when I was 21 and even more today

  30. Pearls are not only classic, fashionable but such a historic piece of jewelry. There is something sophisticated and alluring all at once. What a wonderful exhibit!

    Happy Weekend! XO



  31. I don't own any pearls, not true pearls anyway. I have a Thomas Sabo necklace made from freshwater pearls, but of course nothing on par with what you would have seen and experienced. It's interesting to know the history behind them, I guess it makes you appreciate the ones you own that little bit more. Maybe I will be lucky enough to be bought some one day - maybe with some sappphire stones which is my birth stone. Have a great weekend!

  32. My name literally means pearl, and that could be the reason why I'm so drawn to it, aside from the fact that it's the most sophisticated looking piece of jewellery a woman can own. Your grandmother certainly owned some beautiful pieces. I wasn't able to go to this exhibition, so thank you miss b for a lovely feature on it. Was the scarf for sale? I love the gift box from Istanbul. So chic. I own several pieces of pearl jewellery which I haven't worn for ages. My best worn is a watch with a mother of pearl face. I love it. Looking forward to your next post, and I can sense some appearance of Chanel. Have a lovely weekend. Thanks for my bday greets :)

    1. I can see why you would be drawn to pearls and I'm so pleased that you enjoyed the post. Coco Chanel will most definitely be making an appearance in Part 2.
      PS The scarves were for sale in the museum shop (fifty pounds I think)

  33. I think pearls are so classic! I don't own any myself, but have borrowed from my mom for special occasions….

    ~Alexis Grace of North On Harper

  34. Great exhibition!!! nice pics!!
    Have a good week!!!

    Besos, desde España, Marcela♥

  35. Wow, this is something I would go crazy for, I definitely want to go to this!

    Aesthetic Lounge

  36. such an interesting and beautiful exhibit to attend. i don't own many pearls, just a pair of blush pink pearl earrings, but they are perfect for me and my favorite color! i love that grand jete pin and the tiara you saw...swoon!

  37. I love that you are a pearl girl too and this post is just great! I feel so lucky to be able to design jewelry with south sea pearls, I never tire of their beautiful lustre!
    xo Mary Jo

  38. ça doit être intéressant comme expo !


  39. Oh Marilyn in those pearls is just stunning. Your grandmother's pearls are gorgeous and what a special memory to have them now. Such an interesting post. xx

  40. This exhibition looks really interesting and the pearl items are gorgeous!!

  41. Really! That is fascinating - I believed it was sand grains, and that is more appealing than the parasite, but either way, I adore the pearls. Thanks for this interesting post!

  42. It sounds like an amazing show. I wish I could have seen it. That Jete broach is amazingly creative. I love the tiara too. In fact I love them all. I need to get mine all out and have a peek at what I haven't been wearing.

  43. Oh, that Pearl crown is gorgeous!!!!!! ♡ ♡ ♡

    - Gina
    Margarita Bloom: Retro Modern Beauty & Skincare
    Blog♡ http://margaritabloom-glamourville.blogspot.com
    Facebook♡ https://www.facebook.com/pages/Margarita-Bloom/28087812273?ref=mf
    Twitter♡ https://twitter.com/MargaritaBloom

  44. What I really love about pearls necklace that you can wear it all day long and always that will be your best and stylish choice.


Thank you for taking the time to write a comment on my blog. I really do appreciate it. miss b

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