Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mastery of Design: The Lady Bettine Abbingdon Pink Pearls, 1900-1910

Pink Cultured Pearls, Japan, 1900-1910
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This necklace of four strands of pink pearls of graduated size closes with a gold clasp set with sapphires and diamonds. It was made in London between 1900 and 1910 using Japanese pearls. By the early Twentieth Century, the Japanese had perfected a technique for cultivating pearls which imitated the process by which a natural pearl is formed. The process involves inserting a small irritant into a farmed oyster. The oyster, then, slowly coats the foreign particle with layers of iridescent nacre (mother-of-pearl), eventually producing a perfect pearl.

The necklace was made for Lady Bettine Abbingdon who bequeathed this exceptional piece to the V&A.

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