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Time: 16:21 23 May 2011

Pearls exhibition coming to the V&A

25th July 2013

The Victoria and Albert Museum has announced that from the end of September, it'll be giving visitors the opportunity to "experience the beauty and allure of pearls" in the form of a sumptuous new show.

Entitled Pearls, the new exhibition represents the fruits of a collaboration between the V&A and the Qatar Museums Authority. It explores how these precious stones - long associated with wealth, opulence and royalty - have been highly prized around the world for centuries, from the early Roman Empire to the present day.

Pearls are calcium carbonate deposits formed within the living tissue of shelled molluscs like oysters and mussels, and the majority of specimens sold today are specially cultivated. However, among many other fascinating exhibits, the V&A will be showcasing extremely rare samples found in the wild.

Other attractions include historical pearl-based jewellery. Exhibition-goers will be able to feast their eyes on a necklace once owned by the ill-fated Mary Queen of Scots, resplendent tiaras worn by European royals and aristocrats, and examples of jewellery from the art deco period.

More recent exhibits include a pair of delicate pearl drop earrings once owned by British-born Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor and cultured pearls from brands like Bulgari, Cartier, Chaumet and Tiffany.

Finally, the V&A will be hanging a handful of painted and photographic portraits that give some context to the roles pearls have played in various cultures, and explore how artists from around the world have drawn on their rich symbolic importance.

Pearls opens to the public on September 21st and is scheduled to run until January 19th. Tickets cost £11 for adults and a concessionary rate of £6 is available for students and under-18s.

The V&A should prove easy to reach for those staying in luxury London hotels near the city centre, especially if they're travelling via the London Underground. The museum is a five-minute walk from the South Kensington tube stop.

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