Pearl Bridal Jewellery – A Brief History and my Favourite Pick of the Pearls

In the 1940s and 1950s some of the most famous brides of the last century wore pearl jewellery on their wedding day – Jacqueline Kennedy, Gloria Vanderbilt, Grace Kelly and Queen Elizabeth no less. Take note ladies – pearls are clearly for the fashionable and important (that’s us of course)!

Today on the blog I’ve gone a little pearl crazy. I’ve already been rather fascinated by pearls. There is something quite unique about them being that they’re created within the tissue of living molluscs (oysters, clams etc). It’s all very strange when you think about it! After doing a little delving into the history of pearls, I’ve got my favourite pieces of pearl jewellery – perfect for a fifties wedding.

Now we all know Grace Kelly was 50s pearl queen, and while I say pearls were very popular in the 1950s actually they have been around for centuries. Apparently as far back as 2300 BC pearls were the prized possessions and gifts to royalty. In ancient Rome pearls highly prized and of course only reserved for the very wealthy.

In my research I came across this story about Cleopatra and pearls which I thought was rather interesting (I do love a little tale)…

  • The essence of the story is that Cleopatra wagered Antony that she could give the most expensive meal ever provided. When the only thing placed in front of her was a vessel of sour wine (i.e., vinegar), Antony wondered how she would be able to win the bet. Whereupon Cleopatra removed one of her pearl earrings — said by Pliny to have been worth 10 million sesterces, the equivalent of thousands of pounds of gold — and dropped it into the vinegar. The pearl dissolved in the strongly acidic solution, and Cleopatra drank it down, winning her wager.”

You wouldn’t catch me swallowing any pearls mind, even for the best meal in the world (and I do love my food)!

Fast forward to the late 1800s and early 1900s, and techniques were discovered that could actually make oysters create pearls on demand (barmy). It was in fact a Japanese man who combined all these techniques, and today Mikimoto is known as the person who single-handedly created the worldwide cultured pearl industry. By the time we got to the 50s pearls were much easier to get hold of, and hence it became such a fashionable jewellery accessory.

I’ve been drooling over jewellery these past few days and here are my favourite pieces of pearl jewellery…

There is something very special about pearls.

Have a lovely weekend everyone. I’m hosting my mum’s birthday lunch tomorrow and am so excited! I’m off to prepare the starter now (no clues as I know you will be reading this mum). I just hope my brother doesn’t forget the champagne.

Finally, to all those getting married this weekend – congratulations and enjoy!

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