Shimmering, natural pearls are quite literally Bahrain’s national treasure. Recognised as the world’s finest thanks to their purity of colour, these resplendent jewels of the deep occupy Bahrain’s surrounding Gulf waters. From the Kingdom’s ancient pearl diving heritage to where to buy them, take the plunge with us as we explore the pearls of Bahrain.
Thanks to a perfect storm of optimum salinity and fresh water, Bahraini pearls possess a
mesmerising radiance and the island state has a centuries-old love affair with these precious finds. Excavations at the Bahrain’s ancient Dilmun settlement revealed that pearl fishing has been occurring in the region for an incredible 3,000 years. Pearl fishing was the backbone of the Kingdom’s economy until the 1950s when it suffered to cheaper, cultured competition. To this day in fact, cultured pearls are banned here.
Pearls are so intrinsically linked to Bahrain’s culture and heritage that buildings and
monuments pay homage to them. Until 2011, Manama Roundabout surrounded a giant
pearl sculpture, while Jumeirah Royal Saray’s guest rooms are inspired by them with
mother-of-pearl and ocean blue tones harmonising together.
What to look for
When choosing natural pearls to buy, there are metrics to consider. First of all, size is
everything. A larger one will be rarer and more valuable. Symmetry is important too,
perfectly spherical ones are more in demand but slightly irregular ones can be as beautiful too. Perhaps the most important factor when buying pearls is the lustre and shine. A good-quality natural pearl will be shiny and bright while one of a lesser-quality will be dull with less brilliance. Check your potential pearls are blemish crack free.
Where to buy
For a plethora of pearl jewellery all under one roof, look to the luxurious MODA Mall.
Alongside international jewellery brands like Cartier, you’ll find fine local jewellers such as Al Mahmood Pearls and Al Majed Jewllery. Here, you can pick up elegant pearl strings and fine gold bracelets and earrings with exquisite pearl adornments. In the heart of Manama you’ll find Gold City, a shopping paradise dedicated entirely to jewellery. Peruse its glittering stores including Natural Pearl Palace which sells decorative pearls in their original oyster shells as well as pretty rings, pendants and bracelets.
Where to dive
Once you’ve shopped its malls and explored the souks, take to the depths of Bahrain’s warm Gulf waters and go pearl diving yourself. Surrounded by turtles, barracudas and beautiful coral reefs, it’s not only an incredible way to spend the day, but you’ll get the chance to take home your own pearl of the deep. There are a number of licensed diving centres that’ll take you out to sea, where you’ll collect up to 60 oysters that will be opened on your return journey. Before any trip you’ll need to purchase a pearl diving pass. After, you’re good to go exploring the Gulf’s stunning watery depths.
Discover Jumeirah Royal Saray on your next trip to Bahrain.