Pearls have been revered for thousands of years for their soft iridescent beauty. Once the exclusive province of the very wealthy, they were made more accessible by cultured variations and became a hallmark of chic, due to being the choice of style mavens of various eras. Chanel was a devotee and often wore multiple layers of them. She adored costume jewelry and, through her example and design aesthetic, popularized faux pearls. The gems experienced another resurgence in the 1960’s when Jackie Kennedy was photographed with baby John Jr., wearing a three-strand necklace – also a faux creation. She also wore a single strand collar on her wedding day, helping to make pearls an integral part of the fashion of that era and beyond. In addition to their classic aura, pearls have a chameleon-like ability to be appropriate for any occasion, making them a must-have for every fashionista’s jewelry box. Pearls are measured in millimeters. As a guide, a 6mm pearl will just fit inside the curve of a large paper clip, while a 14mm pearl is about the same diameter as an AA battery. As a general rule, the smaller diameters are the right scale for petite women, while larger pearls work better on Rubenesque frames. Naturally, the rule can be skirted around ;) – layer small pearls to get a bolder effect, play with lengths and simple strands to make large pieces work for a smaller build.
Prologue: vintage faux pearls often have an ivory shading, giving them the patina of heirloom real pearls, which tend to become creamier and develop a more beautiful luster as they worn. Check for collectible fashion jewelry on eBay and Etsy…or in your old box of dress-up clothes, or your Mom’s/aunts’/grandmother’s jewelry collections – assuming they’re amenable to lending or parting with them ;). I have an opera-length necklace of my Mom’s faux pearls, which I adore, both because the beads are gorgeous and because it was hers. I love pearls in general and go through periods of being obsessed with them, but – like Chanel – I’m especially attracted to the idea of “ropes of pearls” and consequently go wild over extra-long strands :). Here are a few more of my faves (note: all are either faux or man-made):
1. 12mm White Pearl & Sterling Silver Necklace by Majorica
*Majorica is a brand that specializes in cultured pearls. They can be a little pricey, but the pieces are of excellent, collectible quality.
2. 10mm 72" White Pearl Rope Necklace by Carolee - I LOVE the length of this piece - it's opulent! Here is a slightly smaller-scale version by Ralph Lauren, featuring 8mm pearls and a 60" length.
3. Sicilia Necklace w/ 14mm Cultured Pearl by Majorica - I'm so in for the casual feel of the black leather cord.
4. 10mm Man-made Pearl Stud Earrings by Majorica
5. Two Row Adjustable Choker by Carolee
6. Pearl Spike Steel Necklace by Majorica - I'm wild over the danger-meets-femme vibe of this piece :)
7. 8 Row Torsade Necklace by Gemma Layne - the luxe vibe of a torsade is a worthwhile addition to any pearl collection!
8. 10mm 18" Pearl Necklace by Ralph Lauren, also a 14mm version, and a 16" 6mm version
9. 60" Convertible Double Strand by Carolee - this piece is amazing! The circular beads and clasp allow it to be converted between 1, 2 and 3 rows, as well as into a lariat. It's like four necklaces in one. I adore that kind of practicality in a beautiful piece!
10. 10mm Pearl Studs by Ralph Lauren
11. 6mm Pearl Studs by Majorica.
Not shown: 14mm Pearl Studs by Carolee
I can't resist including this piece by Nadri, as well; it's a lovely homage to Jackie's three-strand necklace.
Brie (Hi!) More re: me under About. I'm the moving spirit behind this little life-meets-fashion fairy tale world, the home of my non-wrestling-related style musings and loves.