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"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." - Confucius

Pearls are one of the oldest gems, they have been known and in use for 4300 years. They had a symbolic meaning and were used in sentimental jewellery. See more in the previous article.

The rebirth of the Woman

During the Art Deco and the Art Nouveau periods as well as the “Roaring Twenties” life and priorities went through a significant shift. A new “type of woman” was being born; women lived an active social life, smoked, cut their hair short, did sports and even took a political stand. Jewellery followed the new rhythm of life, Chanel popularized the simple pearl strands (with different lengths), and Art Deco motifs had a great impact on accessories too.

Pearls have a prominent place in the jewellery collections of 20th century celebrities including Marilyn Monroe and Liz Taylor. Their beautiful pieces from Mikimoto and Bulgari were also on display at the exhibition.

Today, the popularity of pearls continues to thrive, we can find pieces featuring pearls in the collections of almost every major jewellery house. Some companies even specialize in the creation of pearl jewellery.
The pearls of the exhibition

Mikimoto, who celebrate their 120th anniversary this year, showcased breathtaking creations at the exhibition held at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The Yaguruma clip (the ‘Wheels of Arrows’) from the 1930s had 12 interchangeable settings adorned with Akoya pearls, diamonds, sapphires and emeralds set in 18-carat white gold. This jewel served as decoration for the obi (silk sash) worn with Japanese kimonos.

The “Journey of 5,000 Pearls” is a scarf consisting of 5,000 individual pearls; it took many years to sort the pearls in size, colour, lustre and surface perfection.

The shape of the 8-strand Akoya pearl Mobius necklace is reminiscent of the Mobius Strip; and it is adorned with Sakura diamond motifs. The Sakura (Japanese Cherry Blossom) is also a recurring motif of the traditional Japanese kimonos that are worn in spring.

Yoko was established by Mehdi Hakimian in 1973; their diverse pearl jewels are created using South Sea pearls, as well as Japanese cultured and Chinese freshwater pearls. It is difficult to choose the most beautiful piece from the exhibited collection; we can find pieces glistening in various pink and purple hues in the Amalfi collection, the Carnevale necklace is a lace collar-like white gold necklace with multi colour South Sea and freshwater pearls. The Girandola is made up of white and champagne tone pearls with yellow gold and diamond floral decoration, and the Mezza Luna is the wonderful combination of white, silver and grey keshi pearls.

The exhibition also left room for the creations of contemporary designers. The cabinets featured the ‘Grand Jeté’ brooch designed by Geoffrey Rowlandson, delicate pearl pieces from world renowned pearl specialist Jane Sarginson, a brooch from Friedrich Becker (he was a goldsmith and also designed special kinetic jewellery pieces), the tribal inspired necklaces of Charlotte De Syllas and Nora Fok’s futuristic pieces.


Photo credits: Victoria and Albert Museum, Mikimoto, Loupiosity.com.
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