Tuesday, 22 October 2013



Some of the pearls in the V&A's exhibition are horrors. Baroque pearls lend themselves all too easily to some grotesquely tasteless flights of the jeweller's imagination, and although this necklace of freshwater pearls - above - is undoubtedly clever, inspired by a frostbitten twig, it does look rather like a scabby  barnacle infection on a mermaid's tail. Of course, there's lots more that is simply exquisite, like this tiara, but my overwhelming feeling was that it's sad to see something so lovely in a museum case instead of being worn.
Fascinating to see Elizabeth Taylor's pearls (natural), the Mikimoto pearls that Joe DiMaggio gave to Marilyn Monroe on their honeymoon, and the pearl earring that was taken from Charles I's ear after he was beheaded. And, having always believed the story that pearls grow out of a grain of sand in the oyster, it was news to me - although I'm not sure I wanted to know - that in fact they form as a cyst around an intruding tapeworm. And with that cyst of wisdom, I will leave you.
I wouldn't say that this exhibition is 'must-see' but I enjoyed pottering through for an hour; it's smaller than many V&A exhibitions, but that's not a bad thing.

2 comments:

Toffeeapple said...

Your first picture looks grotesque, not at all what one would associate with pearls. The second image more
than makes up for it though.

mary said...

That first one made me feel slightly ill, Toffeeapple. Reminiscent of maggots, don't you think?