Long associated with royalty, wealth and glamour, pearls have been lusted after from the early Roman Empire right through to present day.

Borrowing from some of the finest jewellery boxes in history, this display features pearls which have graced the necks and lobes of Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe.

Variety of shape and colour is explored through pieces by Bulgari, Cartier, Chaumet, René Lalique and Tiffany, as well as other contemporary artist jewellers.

Paintings, portraits and photographs document the fashion for wearing pearls and their symbolism in East and West, while there is also a chance to learn about the creation of cultured pearls – farmed under controlled conditions –and the impact this has had on the industry.

Don't miss

Among the many precious items are a pearl-drop earring worn by Charles I at his execution in 1649, a group of tiaras worn by European royalty, and a necklace given by Joe DiMaggio to Marilyn Monroe in 1954.

Venue details

V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum) Cromwell Road London SW7 2RL 020 7942 2000

Entry details

£5.60 with National Art Pass (standard entry £11.20)

Open daily, 10am – 5.45pm
Fri, 10am – 10pm