19 May

Pearls, A Historical Review

We are pleased to invite Rui Galopim de Carvalho FGA DGA to give a talk on Pearls. A review that will cover from ancient pearls found in archaeological sites in the Persian Gulf and the Americas to Gulf pearls produced in the local Pinctada Radiata species and that have been recorded during Roman and Byzantine times in jewelled artefacts.


In the Imperial Crown of the Holly Roman Empire (10th century), a fine example of the lavish use of pearls in highly symbolic artefacts, the pearls are, however, reportedly from freshwater mussels (Margaritifera species) from central Europe, which also indicated that freshwater mussels had been used in historical times. The opening of a sea route to the Orient by the Portuguese in the late-1400s enabled direct access to pearl-producing centres in the Gulf and in Asia. At the same time, the Spanish were sourcing significant quantities of pearls in central America (e.g. Pinctada imbricata, P. mazatlanica). The historical review journey ends at the late 1800s when Kokishi Mikimoto started his cultured pearl project that would impact not only the pearl and jewellery world but also gemmology and gemological laboratories.