India and the Middle East

Part of the Pearls exhibition.

Hindu and Muslim Traditions

With pearls so abundant in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Mannar (located between India and Sri Lanka), Indian and Middle Eastern cultures have a long history of using pearls. Indeed, throughout the Muslim and Hindu worlds, both men and women have traditionally worn these gems. During the 1700s and 1800s, some of the world's finest collections of pearls, typically from the Black-lipped Pearl Oyster and Ceylon Pearl Oyster, were owned by rulers in these regions. Both Islamic and Hindu philosophies celebrate pearls: in Islamic thought, pearls represent perfection and completeness. For Hindus, the pearl is one of the planetary gems, associated with the moon and second only to the diamond in esteem.