Pearls are white, or so we think. Since the success of Tahitian pearls, we know they can be black too, but few people are aware that they come in all colours. Who knows that they are formed by all molluscs, including the celebrated nautilus? And who knows how a pearl is formed? Certainly not around a grain of sand! The pearl and its mysteries deserve a reference book that presents this vast and complex subject in a clear manner. The fruit of a great deal of historical and biological research, this book reveals a world that spills into the realms of both natural history and art. Illustrated by over 350 photographs, many of which have never previously been published, Pearls has a place in the library of anyone with a keen interest in jewellery, shellfish or history. It is an expression of the desire of the Qatar Museums Authority to offer readers a text that is at once sophisticated and comprehensible. Its justification can be found in the cultural history of Qatar, once a land of pearl fishers, the last of whom plied their trade in the 1950s.
Hubert Bari has a doctorate in mineralogy and is a designer of museum exhibitions. He staged a major exhibition on diamonds in Paris in 2001, before turning the focus of his research onto pearls. A curator with the Qatar Museums Authority, he has been entrusted with the task of organising an exhibition on pearls at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha for the year 2010, of which this book is a reflection. David Lam is a chemical engineer as well as an organiser of cultural events. After being involved in staging the exhibition Diamants in Paris in 2001, he joined the Qatar Museums Authority for two years to oversee the project for a museum of natural history and the taking of an inventory of its collections.
This book has been published to coincided with the exhibition Pearls, staged at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar from 30 January to 5 June 2010