Last week the CB girls took an office day out to the fantastic newly-opened Pearls exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum.
The exhibition itself was fascinating: the perfect blend of science and art. Sponsored by the Qatar Museum's Authority, the history of pearls was interlaced with incredible footage from one of the last ever pearl dives from the traditional Arabian dhows.
The exhibition also dispelled the widely held myth that pearls are formed around a grain of sand (a new fact for us, too!). They are in fact formed around an 'intruder', like a parasite. In fact, there are some spectacular examples of pearls where x-rays have revealed the presence of intruding worms, fish and even crabs!
We also learned about the fascinating (if slightly squeamish) process of culturing pearls, pioneered in Japan by Kokichi Mikimoto (1858-1954). The production of spherical cultured pearls consists of grafting a small piece of mantle from a donor oyster into another oyster, with the addition of a man-made bead to induce spherical pearl growth. The process was industrialised in 1916 with great success, and has wildly changed the face of the jewellery and pearl industry. Today we have Mikimoto's entrepreneurial talent to thank for making beautiful pearls accessible to all, and not reserved for the few who could afford exceedingly rare natural pearls.
We couldn't agree on a single favourite piece from the exhibition, so we each picked our individual favourite pearl delights:
Charlotte loved the pearl necklace worn by Marilyn Monroe, given to hear by Joe DiMaggio on their honeymoon - a stunning piece of history!
Get the look of these beautifully round and lustrous pearls with our Wallis necklace
Sarah could not resist the beautiful platinum, diamond and natural pearl earrings worn by the ever iconic Elizabeth Taylor in the film Ash Wednesday.
While natural pearls and diamonds are certainly a must for Taylor, you can get the look of these gorgeous teardrop-shaped pearls with our new Peregrina earrings
Sophie's favourite pieces were a set of adorable buttons from George III's state coat, c. 1780. Made from gold, enamel and pearls of varying sizes, these buttons truly make a statement!
Anna's favourite were these gold and pearl earrings, dating back to the Roman Empire. At nearly 2000 years old, they are astonishingly beautiful.
Claudia's favourite piece was the Abernethy Pearl (also known as Little Willie!), found in the River Tay in Scotland. This pearl is perfectly round and full of glowing lustre, making it a very rare specimen indeed. It almost defies belief that such a stunning pearl grew organically in a river not too far from home!
Claudia and the most stunning rendition of a pearl necklace at the end of the exhibition. Claudia is wearing our Wallis earrings
All of the CB girls in the stunning V&A courtyard. We thoroughly recommend the exhibition for all pearl and jewellery fans, but a walk around the iconic V&A is always a pleasure!