Pearls are often called a gift from nature to mankind. Diamonds may be prized for their perceived rarity, a true geological marvel created by immense pressure and heat over hundreds of years. The world’s currencies and markets may have roots in gold and silver. Yet pearls are the one gemstone created by a living creature in a delicate, time-consuming process that’s often imitated but never duplicated. It’s for this reason that pearls have been a fashion mainstay for hundreds of years, prized throughout history for their luxury, luster and glow.
According to history, Queen Cleopatra wanted to show Mark Antony just how wealthy and powerful she was at the time. So, she placed one very large pearl earring in a goblet filled with wine vinegar, where it was melted down. She then drank the concoction, pearl and all, right in front of Antony.
And, it’s that same style of mockery that’s moving today’s fashion and jewelry designers to use these lustrous gems in creative ways. They are using its symbolism of purity and slightly mocking it to create customized styles and fashionable pieces embellished with pearls, from headbands to embroidered stilettos.
Because of this, the elegant pearl is once again in the midst of an epic fashion comeback – and you can thank Hollywood’s A-Listers and Millennials for that. From Rihanna and Taylor Swift to Kim Kardashian, Michelle Obama and Natalie Portman, you don’t have to look far to find pearls in the spotlight. Even a non-conformist like Lady Gaga, with one of the most unique styles on the planet, loves her fine Mikimoto strands of pearls… even if she prefers wearing them on her face rather than around her neck.
In the past, pearls had their own reputation. They were the epitome of traditional, conservative lifestyles. But the fashion and jewelry designers of today are actively changing the image of the pearl to make the gem the image of toughness. They have a vision for the future of pearls, especially when it comes to millennials.
Want to get in on the trend? Take these steps to rock the look.
There’s no need to dive in with multiple strands of pearl necklaces worth hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars. Pearl experts and fashion designers recommend you get your start with a simple pair of pearl earrings. Your best bet? Get online and fined a trusted pearl dealer (make sure to read the reviews and do your research). You can save a significant amount by ordering online over traditional, brick-and-mortar stores.
Know What You’re Buying
Not all pearls are created equal. From freshwater to Golden South Sea to Tahitian Black pearls, study up; there are many more types and colors of pearls than you’re probably aware of. About 30 minutes worth of research will arm you with enough information to make a quality purchase decision – you don’t need to be an expert, but you need to do your homework!
Skip the Fakes
There’s a time and a place for costume jewelry. With pearls, though, go real or go home. Fake pearls look and feel cheap. They don’t glow or shine like the real thing, and you’re not going to pull off the look successfully if skimp.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with cultured (man-made) pearls (note – man-made does not mean fake). In fact, the cultured pearl industry is buzzing, and you can get high-quality pearls for a fraction of the price of their natural counterparts.
Dress it Down
Pearls have shaken their conservative, formal reputation. Try pairing different colors with dressed down styles. Tahitian black gemstones go well with denim – and for that matter so do traditional shades of white. Blues and greens work well for the spring, especially when paired with floral patterns. Over the holidays, stick with white and pink pearl earrings, bracelets, and necklaces whether you’re dressed up or down. For formal occasions, there’s no harm in pairing a black dress with black pearl studs.
Don’t Overdo It
Thick, chunky jewelry – the necklaces and bracelets that were so popular in years past – are out of style. What’s even more out of style? Layering those same thick, chunky pieces. It looks clunky and unsophisticated. Instead, pick long strands of pearls of smaller size for a chic yet edgy look. If you’re going for more of the Rihanna look, you can layer shorter strands of pearl necklaces for a choker-like effect. Just be forewarned – not everyone can pull it off.
For bracelets, you can layer pearls just about however you wish. One thing most people don’t consider, though, is how their pearl bracelets are strung. Don’t be afraid to play with leather and even twine. It’s a great way to dress down pearls for a casual outing, from brunch to happy hour.