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Royalty and Religon

Pearls in 18th-century Europe

With the introduction of improved techniques for faceting gemstones in the 1600s, precious stones such as diamonds became as popular as pearls or more so. Pearls continued to be used throughout the 18th century, however, particularly among the royal families of Europe. Women of the era wore pearl parures--matched sets of necklaces, bracelets, earrings and brooches. Pearls also adorned religious objects, in churches and sometimes synagogues. By the early 1800s, the discovery of new pearl beds in the Pacific, as well as a revival of fishing grounds in Central America, prompted a renewed interest in pearls.


Snake-topped Stickpin
with large baroque freshwater pearl

Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York

A snake-topped stickpin from the mid-nineteenth century, with a large pinkish baroque pearl, owned by Thomas W. Evans, Philadelphia dentist and friend of the Empress Eugenie of France. It is possible that this is the famous Queen Pearl originally found in New Jersey.

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