Jinrui Chen

Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art Business

First Advisor

Stephanie Jeanjean

Second Advisor

Agnes Berecz


This thesis provides an academic exploration of the socio-cultural and political connotations of pearl jewelry during the Qing Dynasty in China and the Victorian era in England. It examines the symbolic prominence of the Eastern pearl within the Qing Dynasty’s hierarchical and imperial contexts, juxtaposing this with the emotional and personal resonance of pearl jewelry in Victorian England. The study employs an array of primary Chinese sources and insightful case studies to investigate the dynamics of pearl harvesting, consumption, and perception, thereby unveiling the diverse roles pearls played in these distinct societies. This comparative approach addresses a gap in existing research, offering insights into the complex relationship between nineteenth-century jewelry and the socio-political contexts of China and England. Structured into four comprehensive chapters, this thesis systematically unfolds the multifaceted significance of pearls, reflecting their varied implications in the contrasting cultural landscapes of Qing China and Victorian England. Each chapter is dedicated to elucidating a specific aspect of pearl jewelry, from its symbolic representation in court culture to its embodiment of personal sentiment, thus contributing to the broader academic understanding of antique jewelry pieces and their societal impact