Men also wear pearls.
There has already been a lot of interest in pearls in Rome. On the eve of the calends of October, and to celebrate his birthday, Pompey, at the height of his power, offered the Romans, among other wonders, a gold moon weighing thirty pounds, nine cabinets filled with gold vases and precious stones, thirty-three pearl crowns, a pearl chapel of muses topped with a clock, and his own portrait made of pearls. Pliny commented with bitterness on this exhibition: "an excess of luxury rather than a triumphal show". Pompey, if such a triumph had crowned your first victory, the women of Rome would have seen your title of Great flourish among them. But what! These pearls, this unnecessary vanity invented for women and which you despised to wear, you let them become your face! Shameful and unworthy abuse of luxury! If one should see a sinister and too clear omen of the wrath of the gods in this head adorned with the precious stones of the Orient, and now contemplated without the other parts of the body.
Nero, for his part, will go so far as to cover the beds where he indulged in pleasure with pearls. The victors of Parenne, in wrestling or racing, also frequently received as a reward pearl necklaces. Emperor Heliogabalus served the most unlikely dishes during a meal that lasted ten days, including rice with pearls... In Rome, it was a particularly high mark of esteem to dissolve pearls in a cup of wine and drink it to the health of a friend or loved one. This drink was said to give strength and promote longevity. Emperor Claudius dissolved a pearl worth a million sesterces in vinegar, which he took from an earring. He drank it and made his guests drink it too. Caligula also liked this very special drink, and covered many things, including dishes, with pearls for his guests.
The Duke of Buckingham was the first to launch the trend of clothes overloaded with pearls in France. He came from England to take Henrietta-Marie, the fiancée of Charles I, and his imposing wardrobe included a purple satin suit adorned with beautiful pearls from the Orient. There were up to one hundred thousand and more, many of them baroque pearls. King Charles wore a very beautiful pearl in his right ear. Macabre detail: when he was beheaded, the onlookers rushed to grab the jewel.
In the 16th century, Jean of France, Duke of Berry, "the great builder of the House of Valois" was a fine collector and fanatic amateur who did not shy away from any madness to satisfy his never-ending passion. He was surrounded by artists, image makers, sculptors, goldsmiths and painters. Pearls, diamonds and rubies sparkled on hats, belts and fasteners, but also on crosses, chalices and altar paintings. The Duke and Duchess of Berry were represented fully dressed in diamonds, rubies, sapphires and pearls, with the Virgin, the Annunciation, Saint George, Saint Michael and two angels.
King-Woman or Man-Queen, Henry III of France loved pearl jewelry. D'Aubigné wrote of him: "With pearl-studded cords his full hair, so that at first glance, everyone was at a loss, if they saw a king-woman or a man-queen." Under Henry III and Henry IV, men will sprinkle their clothes with pearls. Henry IV and Henry III attached a large pearl to their ear. Henry of Lorraine, Count of Harcourt, was nicknamed "Cadet-la-Perle" because he wore a pearl in his ear and was the youngest of the House of Lorraine. Under Charles VI, the male costume was made up of a jacket closed in front by a row of buttons made of precious stones, and on the royal surcoat, the sovereign's initials were embroidered with pearls. Belts, trimmings, hats were adorned with pearls. The powerful Duke of Burgundy, Philip, wore plain black clothes, and his only ornamentation was diamonds and pearls. His pearl-studded scarf was worth half a million francs.