European Pearl Mussel

Part of the Pearls exhibition.

Margaritifera margaritifera

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, dense beds of European Pearl Mussels in Scotland, Germany, Scandinavia and Russia provided abundant "river pearls" to the nobility and the church for embroidery, jewelry and decorative objects. With broadening European exploration and trade, the popularity of these freshwater pearls was eventually overshadowed by the availability of more lustrous marine pearls from the Persian Gulf region and immense quantities of pearls from Venezuela.