It has been too long since we had a post about mollusks. Am I running out of material about these exquisite invertebrates? To make up for the absence here is a short sweet visual post. This is the Empress Crown of Iran. It was manufactured in 1967 by the French jewelers, Van Cleef & Arpels (who had to send a team to Iran to construct the piece). The crown is made of jewels from the Iranian treasury (which was apparently full of exquisite Baroque pearls). To my eye it may be the loveliest extant crown: apparently I am a Van Cleef & Arpels fan—an enthusiasm which has found little to no outlet in my life (Seriously, I thought that was the bad guy in Clint Eastwood moves). The shapes and colors are exquisitely suited to each other in a way which echoes the best of ancient Persian art (more about Persian art shortly). In a very real way, however, the crown does not echo ancient Persian thought. Consorts of the Iranian monarch were uncrowned throughout history—up until 1967. The Shah wanted to make his marriage a part of the so-called “White Revolution”—a series of reforms to break the hold that reactionary clerics and nobles held on society. One of the main aims of the White Revolution was to enfranchise women—and so the Shah wanted a bride who was more equal than were the wives of Qajar rulers. Alas, the unexpected and unintended consequences of the White Revolution wound up casting long shadows over Iran. Historians broadly assert that it upset the wealthy elites without greatly benefiting the poor or providing additional political freedoms and thus paved the way for the mullah’s revolution (as an aside, maybe we are lucky in America that Bernie Sander’s revolution crashed and berned, er, burned). Anyway whatever the case is about agrarian and business reforms, the Shah’s ideas at least led to the creation of this amazing crown for Farah Pahlavi, the first (and last) empress of Iran.