Rothschild American Natural Freshwater Pearl Necklace

Rothschild American Natural Freshwater Pearl Necklace

The Museum of Fine Arts has more than 11,000 objects in this category, and they range over many millennia. Many are already on display in other parts of the museum.

There are, as you might expect, lots of diamonds and pearls in among those thousands: Look out, in particular, for the “Rothschild American Natural Freshwater Pearl Necklace.’’ Its pearls, found naturally in only one out of every 10,000 mussels, were carefully selected over 10 years by the gem expert and dealer Meyer D. Rothschild for a necklace he gave to his wife, Edith.

But there are also rare and unusual items, like kingfisher feathers, hummingbird heads, ivory, coral, rock crystal, tortoiseshell, and tiger claw - not to mention common and inexpensive materials such as glass, wood, conch shell, beads, and rubber.

Of course, to speak only of materials is to miss the whole point of jewelry, which is all about how those materials are transformed - with what ends in mind, with what feeling for beauty.

The gallery’s inaugural display, “Jewels, Gems, and Treasures: Ancient to Modern,’’ reminds us that these questions have received very different answers over the centuries.

More about Rothschild American Natural Freshwater Pearl Necklace

See an antique pearl necklace from American freshwater pearls, but this one wasn't so hand picked and is much older.

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