One of the oldest gemstones known, pearls have long made their imprint into the image of royals, legendary beauties and style icons. Audrey Hepburn and Coco Chanel both preferred faux pearl necklaces, and Princess Diana's sapphire and pearl collar perfectly complemented her “revenge dress.”
In 1917, Pierre Cartier exchanged a $1 million two-strand pearl necklace plus $100 cash for a Fifth Avenue mansion, which became Cartier New York. Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I and the English court prove that the Tudors held pearls in high regard, so much so that the 1600s became known as the Pearl Age.
More recently, Harry Styles has dressed up in his single pearl necklace at the Met Gala’s red carpet and then dressed it down wearing it over a tee shirt, sweatshirt (or no shirt) pretty much every day.
When choosing what pearl jewelry is right for you, consider the different types of pearls: natural, cultured or imitation. Natural pearls are increasingly rare as their original source is nearly depleted — their rarity and desirability make an excellent wearable form of alternative investment.
Cultured pearls (Akoya Pearls, Freshwater Pearls, Hanadama Pearls, Tahitian Pearls and South Sea Pearls) make the majority of the pearls currently in the market. Both cultured and natural pearls can be cultivated in seawater or freshwater bodies.
Lastly, imitation pearls (like the name says) are not real but nevertheless retain their position in any collection for their fashion cachet, particularly Chanel’s pearl jewelry.
Discover the pearls that can jump-start your jewelry wardrobe or be the perfect addition to your existing collection.
The Classic Pearl Necklace
The layering of pearl strands has always been a quick way to bring elegance to a look, but more fashion-daring icons have pushed it further by layering seven-strand pearl necklaces with a pearl pendant.
A Unique Engagement Ring
If a diamond ring is not in the cards for you, a pearl engagement ring might be just right. Better yet, choose a pearl engagement ring design that makes the best of both worlds, mixing diamonds and other stones such as ruby.
Coco Chanel was possibly the first fashion designer to experiment with faux pearls, wearing them in multiple long strands across different ensembles and disregarding the usual formality normally associated with a pearl necklace. The maison’s costume jewelry fully embraces the iconic motifs: the camellia, maltese cross and gold coins along the double Cs.
No matter what the new standards for daywear jewelry may be, one can still admire the beauty of an understated, elegant piece. A bracelet or earring with a strategically placed pair of pearls gives an instant upgrade to a casual look.
A pearl stud or a drop earring are still great additions to any jewelry box, but why not have fun with an earring that mixes different size pearls with glimmering colored stones for maximum effect?