Coveteur said it best… “In case you’re currently living under a rock, there’s been a huge resurgence of pearl jewelry lately.” Pearls are enjoying a sort of Renaissance, showing up on Haute Couture fashion runways, as well as on celebrities of all ages (and genders) at award shows and public appearances. The luminous pearl has taken center stage in a mega trend that fashion forecasters expect to last for many years. One of the earth’s most sustainable gems, pearls are now appealing to a broader range of customers, including the all-important younger consumer.
No longer reserved for the mature or the female, the pearl trend is both unisex and universal. According to many fashion editors, the trend is here to stay. As Marie Claire put it, “Pearls have made a major comeback and don’t seem to be heading anywhere anytime soon.”
Fashion Mega Trend
Town & County Editor-in-Chief Stellene Volandes believes that pearls are back for a reason. “When people say how did pearls come back or why are pearls no longer the jewel of grandmas and cardigan-wearing ladies, my answer is always – pearls were never that. Pearls were never timid. Pearls were always a bold symbol of personal power. Power is IN the pearl and that is why you are seeing it. It is beautiful. That luster. They are natural wonders. And they have an incredible link to history. And to the idea of strong women, strong leaders, and this sense of feeling confident in yourself.”
As the female empowerment movement began to grow, pearls began appearing on the runways. Simone Rocha has made them a mainstay in her collections, for her several years now using pearls as accessories and hair adornments, as well as embellishments sewn into the fabrics of her ready-to-wear ensembles. Marc Jacobs and Giambattista Valli now wear pearl strands themselves and also use them on the runway to adorn their latest designs. Dior has been using pearls for a few seasons with bold choker necklaces or mismatched baroque pearl drops earrings. Chanel has fully embraced founder Coco Chanel’s love of pearls, layering their looks with “ropes and ropes of pearls,” worn in creative ways at the neck, wrist, and even as a belt. Jason Wu opted for short baroque pearl strands to pair with his Spring/Summer 2021 collections.
Badgley Mischka, Pucci, Versace, Y Project and more have featured piled-on pearls in recent seasons, with jumbles and layers of varying lengths. Bold pearl earrings, often single or mismatched, abound at Carolina Herrera, Tibi, Prabal Gurung, Hellessy and Givenchy. The luster of the pearls near the face adds a feminine quality to the two or three-piece suits, waistcoats, and broad shoulder looks that are reflecting the women’s empowerment movement. Quite simply, pearls are everywhere in the fashion world, and jewelry designers are taking note, offering more and more modern and creative styles.
Pearl brands and designers are now creating innovative looks that feel fresh and modern. Melanie Georgacopoulos is slicing pearls to dramatic effect. Assael recently launched unique pearl and gemstone combinations in The Colors collection that highlights the many beautiful hues and undertones in the various types of pearls. Designer Wilfredo Rosado is features initials and meaningful motifs inlaid onto the surface of pearls in his Pearl ID collection. Mikimoto has partnered recently with Commes des Garçon to create unisex pearl and chain-link necklaces. These looks are getting a lot of press, keeping the pearl buzz going and offering pearl lovers great variety for building or beginning their pearl jewelry wardrobes.
Pop Culture Movement
Pearls are also being embraced by celebrities and pop culture icons. Many female politicians on both sides of the aisles regularly wear pearls for their public appearances. Celebrities are also embracing #powerpearls. Julia Garner was draped in pearls and wore a pearl brooch in her hair at last year’s Emmy Awards on Zoom. Zoe Kravitz donned pearl stud earrings at the SAG Awards in early 2020. And male celebrities have also jumped on the pearl popularity train as music stars like Harry Styles, ASAP Rocky, Nick Jonas, Pharrell, Shaw Mendes, Usher have all made pearls the new gender-fluid gem, opting for a single pearl strand or a pearl stud earring as staples of their rock star style.
Because they are always appropriate and less conspicuous than sparkling gems, pearls are creating a kind of pop culture movement. For inauguration day, the hashtag #wearyourpearls was trending in support of the first-ever female Vice President. Halloween costumes of the Notorious RBG were hugely popular in recent years, including pearl earrings with her iconic lace collars. The fascination with the royalty of late, both in real life and on the big screen, have kept pearls top of mind from the 2013 Great Gatsby film through all of Downton Abbey and 2018’s The Favourite and more recently the Netflix hits Bridgerton and The Crown.
According to Peggy Grosz, senior vice president of luxury pearl brand Assael, “Pearls are unique in that they can be both powerful and soft. They become a beautiful expression of strength that is simultaneously sophisticated and understated.” That fusion of femininity and grace is resonating well with modern consumers, including Millennials and Gen Z, generations who prefer to express their individuality and competence with earth-friendly gems like pearls.
According to Departures, “Pearls just may be the most sustainable gems in the world.” Pearl farmers rely on clean healthy oceans in order for their businesses to thrive and many are, therefore, working hard to keep the waters as clean and pollution-free as they can. The sustainability aspect makes pearls a guilt-free luxury. Not only are pearls incredibly popular right now, but they also have that important eco-conscious feel-good factor. And in times of uncertainty and duress, the understated elegance of pearls makes them particularly appropriate. Pearls are a tasteful and way to an acceptable way to enjoy luxury and express so much more than style.