The Victoria & Albert Museum Pearl Exhibition

V & A Pearls Exhibition

V & A Pearls Exhibition

The highly anticipated Pearls exhibition is opening to the public at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London tomorrow. This is a phenomenal opportunity to be educated about the jewel from the sea, as well as ogle some of the most beautiful and historically important examples that feature them.

Showing 200 pieces of both natural and cultured pearl jewelry, the exhibition spans from Roman examples circa the first century AD, right up to works of craftsmanship completed in the last few years. Attendees will learn the real story of how pearls are formed (hint: the whole ‘grain of sand thing’ is a myth), the process of harvesting them, what they symbolized to different eras, and also how cultured pearls came to be.

Gold, ruby and pearl Cross Pendant. Germany circa 1500-1525.

Gold, ruby and pearl Cross Pendant. Germany circa 1500-1525.

Pearl and diamond earrings. France circa 1795-1810.

Pearl and diamond earrings. France circa 1795-1810.

Lover's Eye Brooch circa 1800-1820.Lover’s Eye Brooch. England circa 1800-1820.

George Fouquet Brooch circa 1900.

Georges Fouquet Brooch. France circa 1900.

A Cartier pearl and diamond necklace circa 1930s.

A Cartier pearl and diamond necklace circa 1930s.

Hemmerle's 'Tarantula' brooch featuring a rare dark brown conch pearl (1995).

Hemmerle’s ‘Tarantula’ brooch featuring a rare dark brown conch pearl (1995).

Geoffrey Rowlandson's baroque pearl brooch 'Grand Jeté' (1999).

Geoffrey Rowlandson’s baroque pearl brooch ‘Grand Jeté’ (1999).

YOKO London's contemporary pearl and diamond necklace.YOKO London’s contemporary pearl and diamond necklace.

Highlights of the exhibition include Marilyn Monroe’s strand of Mikimoto cultured pearls given to her by Joe DiMaggio in 1954, the pearl drop earring worn by King Charles I when he was executed in 1649, and the Rosebery Tiara, made by Garrard in 1878 which features enormous dangling pearls. In addition to these, there are pieces from every major period and from across the world, which just goes to show how universally loved they are.

Marilyn Monroe's Mikimoto pearls.

Marilyn Monroe’s Mikimoto pearls.

The Rosebery Tiara, being modeled by a Christie's employee ahead of its auction on June 8, 2011.

The Rosebery Tiara, being modeled by a Christie’s employee ahead of its auction on June 8, 2011.

The exhibition is being held in conjugation with the Qatar Museum Authority (QMA), which hosted a smaller exhibition of its own prior to this one. There is a long history between pearls and Qatar, as pearls from the Persian Gulf used to be the mainstay of the economy until oil was discovered in the 1970s. The QMA has quietly been buying up the very best pieces at auction over the last decade (the Rosebery Tiara being one of them) and is planning to open a pearl museum in Doha in 2016.

The exhibition is open from September 21 to January 19, 2014. Watch a video clip from the BBC on the show below.

The 2013 September Issues

Lanvin PFW Fall 2013

Lanvin PFW Fall 2013

I’ve finally had the chance to wade through/iPad-ogle all the major September fashion issues and share some of my jewelry findings…

When it came to jewelry off the runways there were two clear winners among editors across the world, both of which were necklaces. Lanvin’s golden oversized statement pieces that said things like ‘Happy’, ‘Cool’, ‘Love’ and ‘Help’ made it into the editorial of nearly every issue, as well as the covers of US Elle and Seventeen. It was fitting, seeing as big gold chains were definitely a noticeable trend.

Kate Upton on the cover of US Elle in Lanvin jewelry.

Kate Upton on the cover of US Elle in Lanvin jewelry.

In a close second was the sculptural silver piece from Céline, which was featured on one of Vogue China’s eight covers. It also got considerable editorial coverage, but it’s more at odds with the general trends that I noticed.

Céline necklace in Harper's Bazaar UK editorial.

Céline necklace in Harper’s Bazaar UK.

Céline necklace in Japan Vogue.

Céline necklace in Japan Vogue.

On the whole it seemed there were three things of note that are quite different to each other. First, the aforementioned big gold chains, as well as over the top sized pieces in general layered together are definitely having their day. In the opposite direction though, are very delicate metal pieces, generally sans gemstones, also layered together. And finally, pearls are popping up everywhere in fairly lady-like ways of studs and single strands. It seemed that a more punk-ish aesthetic was going to take hold when it came to pearls, but the edge has been kept rather subtle with the studded Valentino necklace being quite popular.

Lots of layers of gold in Japan Vogue.

Lots of layers of gold in Japan Vogue.

Ralph Lauren Fine Jewelry stacked in US Harper's Bazaar.

Ralph Lauren Fine Jewelry stacked in US Harper’s Bazaar.

A whisper of gold in British Vogue.

A whisper of gold in British Vogue.

More delicate gold pieces in US Vogue.

More delicate gold pieces in US Vogue.

The studded Valentino necklace in Harper's Bazaar UK.The studded Valentino necklace in Harper’s Bazaar UK.

A Mikimoto single strand in Japan Vogue.

A Mikimoto single strand in Japan Vogue.

A more bohemian look for pearls in US Vogue.

A more bohemian look for pearls in US Vogue.

An editorial piece in Vogue China featuring Valentino's studded pearl necklace.

An editorial piece in Vogue China featuring Valentino’s studded pearl necklace.

As a final note I have to say that the Bulgari ads that ran the world over featuring Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in the new Diva collection were by far my favorite jewelry campaign. The color is just so…juicy!

Bulgari Diva ad campaign featuring Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.

Bulgari Diva ad campaign featuring Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.

2013 Couture Design Awards

Tomasz Donocik 2013 JCK Couture Award for Diamonds

Diamond over $20,000 Category Award and Debuting at Couture Award: Tomasz Donocik ring.

2013 Las Vegas Couture, a trade show catering exclusively to the luxury end of the jewelry market, has wrapped up and sent some jewelers home with design awards. UK-based Tomasz Donocik was a big winner with awards for diamond design over $20,000 and also best debut exhibitor. Alp Sagnak of Atelier Minyon, a Turkish jeweler, won both the silver category and People’s Choice Award. Mikimoto won for an unusual pearl design and Heather Moore did a really interesting twist on an engagement ring for the bridal category. And finally, the winning piece for diamond design under $20,000, by Mexican jeweler Colette, has to be worn to be appreciated.

Atelier Minyon 2013 JCK Awards

Silver Category Award and People’s Choice Award: Atelier Minyon necklace.

Mikimoto 2013 JCK Awards

Pearl Category Award: Mikimoto

Heather Moore 2013 JCK Awards

Bridal Category Award: Heather Moore

Colette 2013 Couture Design Award

Diamond under $20,000 Category Award: Colette

Image courtesy of Fragments Jewelry

Image courtesy of Fragments