This Sunday, I made my way up to the V&A to take a peek at their exhibition on pearls to research some design ideas for new pieces. Fantastically curated, the exhibition was small, informative and utterly gorgeous. There were pieces from all decades of time, from Mary Tudor’s pearl, the infamous Hope pearl, traditional wedding pearls from the Middle East to Elizabeth Taylor’s pearl earrings from her vast jewellery collection. The cherry on top of the cake was finding out that Marilyn Monroe’s favourite piece of jewellery was her string of Japanese Akoya pearls, gifted to her by her second husband Joe DiMaggio, which she claimed during her later years she wore regularly as it reminded her of better times. Nice to know that the pearls I sell were Marilyn’s favourite!
I was also interested to find that there was an entire section on Japanese cultured pearls, with video installations on Mikimoto’s process on making this entire industry possible. Given that Chinese pearls pretty much dominate the current pearl market, it was uplifting to see so much attention placed on Akoya and Biwa pearls at the exhibition. I was also pleasantly surprised and intrigued by some of the contemporary pieces towards the end of the show, pieces that represent the versatility of pearls and just how timeless they really are. I have inserted below a few pictures of some of my favourite pieces from the exhibition but urge that if you do have the time, pop down to the exhibition as these pictures really do not do these beauties justice.