It's Time to Get Reacquainted With Pearl Jewelry

Think beyond your grandmother's strands.

by Kendall Becker
Originally Published: 
A model wearing Mateo New York's Not Your Mother Pearls necklace.
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It seems as though the trend cycle is faster than ever; one day everyone is obsessively swooning over a trend on social media, and by next season, it’s nowhere to be found. Nonetheless, there are trends that lean timeless and minimalistic, making them easy to keep relevant not just for a season, but throughout decades. Modern takes on pearl jewelry hit that sweet spot: long-term wearability makes a new strand or set of earrings worthy of investment.

The organic gemstone has been beloved through countless eras as historic icons like Queen Elizabeth I, Coco Chanel, Elizabeth Taylor, and even Cleopatra were fans; and yet, it’s still undeniably coveted today. “I liken it almost to the same way societal expectations of women have evolved over time,” says Alicia Sandve, founder of It-girl-loved jewelry brand HEYMAEVE. “Gone are the days where perfection is everything, now we learn to embrace and love ourselves just the way we are, imperfections and all. That is powerful,” Sandve tells TZR.

These days, pearl jewelry isn’t just found in the singular, uniform strand that initially comes to mind. While the preppy strands of the mid-20th century represented exclusivity, the newest iterations embrace the shift towards inclusivity and a more casual sensibility. Now, the market is filled with options unique as each wearer; from dramatic black pearls earrings to a whimsical necklace strung with colorful beads and baroque pearls — there’s really something for everyone.

So, forget what you thought you knew about this classic gemstone, and get reacquainted with pearl jewelry through these five rising trends.

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Everyday Wear

In the past, pearl jewelry had a country club connotation —not meant as everyday jewelry. Nowadays, pearl jewelry can be as approachable as any other option in your arsenal. “They’re less about status, or about polish and elegance; instead, they’ve become a really playful addition to jewelry collections while still giving a nod to their elegant past,” says Fiona Morrison, founder and creative director of demi-fine jewelry label Wolf Circus. Opt for a piece that feels wearable, like a simple gold necklace chain, twisted band, or small hoop earrings, punctuated with the easy elegance of a pearl to seamlessly pair with your go-to stack.

Architecturally Crafted

Even if you’ve written off classic pearl jewelry in the past, it’s hard to deny the skillful craftsmanship that’s gone into these newest iterations. Across the market, designers have taken an abstract approach by creating jewelry that may as well be a sculpture in the MoMA. It makes for a standout statement in your mix of baubles.

Cool Colorations

It’s time to think past the tried-and-true white pearl and try a little color. “We expanded our love of pearls by introducing black pearls, which have a super special colorful iridescence,” says Morrison. “Our foray into black and freshwater baroque pearls brings a really modern, organic, Wolf Circus feeling to the classics,” she says. In addition to black, you may not realize pearls actually come in lustrous grays, pinks, greens, and purples. Next time you’re looking for a fresh strand, consider an eye-catching color that speaks to your personal aesthetic.

Beauty in Baroque

In stark contrast to the uniform perfection of the classic spherical pearl, baroque options are beloved for their irregularity — in fact, they initially gained popularity during the Renaissance as they were highly sought after for their one-of-a-kind beauty. The imperfection feels less fussy than a traditional take on pearls. If you’re looking to subtly test the trend, opt for a piece where the pearl acts as a pendant — or, more daring options include a full, look-at-me strand of baroque pearls.

Mixed Media

The mixed-media approach to pearl jewelry offers a modern spin on a classic by pairing it back to a variety of other gemstones and beads; plus, it allows the designer and the wearer an opportunity to showcase their creativity for a personalized touch. Taking a functional approach, Marisa Hordern of demi-fine jewelry brand Missoma says that “the single pearl pendants on our necklaces and hoops can be taken off and added to any other pieces” for a mix-and-match twist. Sandve leans into trends while still adhering to the HEYMAEVE style code — and the brand’s Kiss Me Necklace is a prime example. “We also love adding gold charms to a classic pearl choker, giving us ultimate Y2K vibes, but elevated,” she says.

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