June Birthstone Report: How to Wear Pearls

Coco Chanel
Coco Chanel was famous for her pearls.

Perhaps because I was born in June I have always been drawn to pearls. I remember my first piece of “good jewelry,” a cultured pearl birthstone ring set in 14k gold, given to me by my parents on my 13th birthday.

From that day on, pearls have been a mainstay of my jewelry wardrobe…as I suspect they are in yours. So let’s review some tips on how to wear pearls, because whether they’re the cultured or costume variety, we OBJ girls simply love our pearls!

Pearls for Any Occasion

Believe it or not, there was a time when pearls were just for evenings or special occasions. Today, there are no rules, no do’s and don’ts. Pearls are being mixed with different stones and crystals, and different color metals and resins, making them wearable for any time of day and for any event. Pearls are not considered conservative and demure anymore. They can be elegant, edgy, fun or funky…limited only by jewelry designer’s imagination – and yours.

non-traditional-style-pearls-contemporary-couture

A Royal Legacy

Natural pearls are extremely rare. Known as “jewels of the sea,” they have long been collected by royalty and the very wealthy. “Pearls were treasured by kings in Europe, noble families in America, the Maharajahs of India and the Sheikhs of the Middle East,” says Rahul Kadakia, head of jewelry for Christie’s North America. “They’ve always had a royal following.”

Chanel Les Perles, multi-color pearl strands
(Left) Chanel Fine Jewelry’s 2014 “Les Perles” collection features Japanese and Indonesian pearls,
Australian Baroques, and Tahitians, prized for their unique color spectrum.
(Right) Pearls in different colors dress up a casual outfit.

Today, cultured pearls are much more accessible, but they too can be precious, ranging from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition to white and cream, cultured pearls come in light grey, light pink, dark grey, black, and golden colors.

Many new cultured pearl styles as well as fashion jewelry designs feature different color pearls in the same piece. You can create your own multicolor pearl jewelry by layering necklaces and bracelets in different hues.

Daytime Pearls

For a workday look I like to team a pearl choker or matinee-length necklace with a dress or suit. On Casual Fridays I might wear two long strands of pearls with a good shirt and jeans. Simple pearl studs are my daytime go-to earrings; they seem to light up my face more than any other style.

Don’t own a pearl bracelet? Try wrapping your necklace three times around your wrist. (But beware: To avoid the matchy-matchy pitfall I would refrain from wearing a pearl necklace, bracelet and earrings all at once.)

Elizabeth Taylor wearing La Peregrina Pearl
The 500-year-old La Peregrina pearl was given to Elizabeth Taylor by Richard Burton.
Her Cartier necklace she designed around the pearl fetched $11.8 million at Christie’s New York in 2011.

Pearls at Night

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany'sIn the evening cultured pearls take on special luster, especially when mixed with diamonds and gems (a favorite red carpet style). You can achieve the same statement looks with good costume reproductions, available in-store and online. The combination of pearls and gold is a classic with any LBD, but try mixing them with silver or black rhodium for an edgier effect.

Finally, to update pearls you already own, consider adding a jeweled brooch to your favorite necklace or bracelet. I recently found a costume piece from the ‘60s hiding in an old jewelry box of my mother’s. I pinned it to a multi-strand pearl necklace and voilà – I felt just like Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

Happy Birthday to all you June birthday babies! To learn the best way to care for your pearls, click here.

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