We Never Go Out of Style

by M. Davis Straske

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When you think of dazzling gemstones and jewels, what comes to mind? Sparkling emeralds, shiny rubies, fantastic sapphires, but what about simple, classic pearls? While pearls are seen practically every day in our society, the desire and demand for the shiny white bead has been constant throughout history.

In the Elizabethan era, from the mid 1550s to early 1600s, pearls were plentiful in quantity, and could be used to decorate a hundred different accessories (Saunders 251). So why exactly did the value of pearls triple during the Elizabethan era (Chadour-Sampson 81)? Well, they were more than just a simple gemstone to the English in the 1600s. During this period, pearls took on many different and enticing meanings, were adored by a fantastic and famous queen, could solidify friendships, and frankly, were absolutely fashionable.

Pearls have an extensive history, but to learn more about pearls in the Elizabethan era…



Suggested readings:

  • Chadour-Sampson, Anna Beatriz, and Hubert Bari. 2013. Pearls.
  • Saunders, Nicholas J. 1999. “Biographies of brilliance: pearls, transformations of matter and being, c. AD 1492.” World Archaeology 31, no. 2: 243-257. Art Full Text (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost. Accessed November 4, 2015.
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