Pearl accessories have become a recurring theme on Capitol Hill. Whether worn in long, iridescent strands or in the form of dainty stud earrings, the prominence of pearls in recent election-related festivities were well-documented (most notably on Vice President Kamala Harris). Joining Harris' love for this gemstone, too, is First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, whose pearl necklaces, earrings, and bracelets were key accessories in her outfits throughout the years. The stone itself also comes with a deeper meaning, more on this ahead, that makes it extra significant and admirable.
While campaigning across the country in 2020 alongside her husband, now President Joe Biden, Dr. Biden's pearl baubles were some of her most-rotated accessories. What some may not have realized is that many of these pieces have been in her jewelry box as early as 2008. Take her oversized pearl studs, for instance, which Dr. Biden wore while speaking at the GLSEN Respect Awards on June 2009, and again at the Kingsborough Community College just two weeks later. These past pearl-clad outfits also seem to confirm the stone's truly timeless appeal, looking just as fashionable then as they do in 2021.
In addition, pearls come with a deeper significance that's played a role in their prominence amongst women in politics. "Pearls have long been associated with properties including protection, wisdom, and modesty," says Kathryn Money, SVP of merchandising and retail expansion at Brilliant Earth. "They have maintained popularity across centuries, continents, and cultures, which speaks to their timeless nature." Embodying the pearl's qualities in portraying wisdom and modesty, First Ladies Jackie Onassis Kennedy, Michelle Obama, and Hillary Clinton have all have worn the gemstone before. For Vice President Harris, her pearls, specifically, were a powerful symbol of the 20 founders and incorporators of her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, which was the first Black Greek Letter Organization for women. (The organization was founded at her alma mater, Howard University in 1908.)
The love for pearl accessories even extended to voters this past election season. In Nov. 2020, #PearlsToThePolls went viral across social media platforms — a sartorial choice intended to show solidarity with Harris and the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg. According to Mooney, the general public is more obsessed with pearlescent necklaces and earrings than ever before, merging new-and-now styles with traditional pearl jewelry looks. "Recently, we've been seeing contemporary updates on the classic strand of pearls, including incorporating them into more distinctive styles, pairing them with on-trend yellow gold, and using more organic pearls than the traditional cultivated pearls," she adds.
For those who want to add pearls into their own wardrobes, browse through Dr. Biden's brightest pearl-clad outfit moments for inspiration. Then, shop similar jewelry styles plus her exact go-to pearl earrings.
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Dr. Jill Biden's Pearls: 3-Strand Necklace
For her tour of the Whitman-Walker Health hospital on Jan. 22, Dr. Biden wore a simple white dress with three strands of pearls. The staggering lengths added a cascading, dramatic effect to her look. She styled them with a gold wristwatch and floral Lele Sadoughi earrings.
Dr. Jill Biden's Pearls: Safety Pin Earrings
At the National Mall during the COVID-19 Memorial on Jan. 20, Dr. Biden wore a deep eggplant-colored coat by Jonathan Cohen. She accessorized the look with a pair of cultured pearl earrings from Mizuki — the row of three pearls conveyed a sense of uniformity and stillness.
Dr. Jill Biden's Pearls: 3-Stone Drop Earrings
For her speech at a Women for Biden rally in Boca Raton, Florida in Oct. 2020, Dr. Biden wore a floral printed dress and a pair of earrings that had three dainty pearls hanging from its post. She also appears to be wearing a disc-shaped mother of pearl necklace.
Dr. Jill Biden's Pearls: Simple Studs
For her visit to the Korean War Memorial Park in Philadelphia on Veteran's Day in 2020, Dr. Biden wore rounded stud pearl earrings, which provided a glimmer of light to her otherwise dark and demure ensemble. She also wore two layered minimalist necklaces for the visit.
Dr. Jill Biden's Pearls: Double-Row Bracelet
In March 2020, for an appearance at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Dr. Biden wore her signature costume pearl strands, along with a double-row pearl bracelet that she stacked on top of a gold bangle.