Wednesday, April 21

Pearl Facts: the B-shaped necklace

Most of us know and some of us love Ugly Betty Suarez. Her breathtaking lack of a sense of style and wonderful abundance of a sense of humor amuse us since 2006 (for the US version of the series that is!). We all know her pearl choker decorated with a pearly letter “B” in the center. B, of course, is for Betty. But is it really?

In fact, the original necklace is far older than the series! It belonged to Anne Boleyn, mother or Queen Elisabeth I and the Queen of England from 1533 to 1536. The most famous portrait shows her wearing this very strand of white pearls with a gold “B” pendant as the central ornament. Anne Boleyn passed her love for pearls to her daughter, who, reportedly, owned over 3,000 pearl embroidered dresses! In 16th century England, these pearls embodied power of the queen even more than gold.

The necklace is worn in a double loop, with choker and opera-length loops. The gold “B” pendant hangs from the choker part of the necklace. This letter, which makes the necklace so unique, is believed by many historians to refer to the queen’s family name. Three drop-shaped pearls dangle at the bottom of the “B”.

But the necklace is not the only thing that brings Betty and Anne Boleyn together. Both were full of energy, vitality, and wit, and… moderately beautiful. Still, whatever shortcomings they both might have had in their beauty were more than compensated by their educational and cultural values.

The 2008 “The Other Boleyn Girl” movie retells the story of Anne Boleyn. Often referred to as the most influential and important queen consort England has ever had. She was a key figure in the political and religious turmoil that initiated the English Reformation. Her marriage to King Henry VIII was voided and led to the permanent break between the Church of England and the Catholic Church. There is a theory that Anne was the victim of her husband's cruelty and that her failure to give a male heir for the English monarchy meant that Henry stopped at nothing to get rid of her. Accused of adultery, incest, and high treason, Anne was beheaded after an unfair trial in 1536.

Natalie Portman, who played the unfortunate queen, sways though the silver screen wearing a replica of the famous “B” necklace.

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