Pearls of Qatar Museums in Moscow: About the Exhibition
Yesterday I visited the Pearls: Treasures from the Seas and the Rivers Exhibition at the State Historical Museum of Moscow. I could not miss this rare oppotunity to see one of the finest collections of pearl jewellery ever assembled. More than 100 pieces have been selected from around the world, icluding the Gulf, Europe and Asia: masterpieces by Cartier, a spetacular tiara worn by Archduchess Marie Valerie of Austria and five royal tiaras from other European monarchies, etnographic and tribal pieces of pearl jewelry such as headdresses from Tibet.
“Pearls have long inspired artists and painters with their quiet elegance and mystery. This diverse exhibition will answer many of the questions surrounding these natural wonders, while taking visitors on a fascinating journey through the history of pearl diving and trade in Qatar,” said Dr Hubert Bari, curator of the exhibition.
The exhibition begins with the special section dedicated to the extraction and origin of pearls, shedding light on many unknown facts and illuminates some mysteries still surrounding it. I could only admire the different kinds of pearls created by shell fish from around the world, including a unique collection of freshwater natural pearls from the Mississippi and Tennessee rivers in America, built by John Latendresse, a prominent specialist in American pearls.
This seven strings Gulf pearl necklace is made with perfectly matching pearls. It takes years and thousands of pearls to succeed into such a creation. It was realized in Qatar by the leader of pearls of the country: Husain Alfardan who is the driving force behind one of the most successful and powerful family-owned conglomerates in the Arabic Gulf and his stock represents a minimum of 70% of the natural pearl stock in the world.
Pearls were fished in the Arabian Gulf for thousands of years which became the only source of income for countries such as Qatar. By the early 19th century the Gulf was the major global supplier of natural pearls. These stunning gemstones conquered Europe through the trade between Muslim countries, Byzantium and Venice in Italy. They were an expensive luxury, a symbol of wealth and status, valued and adorned not onle by kings and queens, but also sacred reliquaries in churches.
There is a curious section with videos dedicated to the cultivating pearls in Japan and China. It was interesting to see the creation process of japanese Mikimoto pearls and chinese freshwater pearls. Kokichi Mikimoto succeeded in creating the world’s first cultured pearl and from 1916 the industrial process of producing perfect and equal pearls was filly implemented. Chinese cultivated freshwater pearls are grown in the very resistant mussel which lives in lakes and flooded rice fields. The end result is the production of over 4,000 tons per year and only 10% of the production of these pearls are accetable quality.
This exhibition is a great opportunity to admire the beauty of natural pearl that have become rare, appreciate stunning historic jewelry pieces and learn exciting facts about this marvellous gemstone.
At the State Historical Museum in Moscow, Russia till the 1st of October 2018. Don’t miss it!