June Birthstone Report: How to Wear Pearls

Coco Chanel
Coco Chanel once famously said, “A woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls.”

Perhaps because I was born in June, I have always been drawn to pearls. I remember my first piece of “good jewelry,” a June birthstone ring set in 14k gold, given to me by my parents on my tenth 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 best to wear them, because whether it’s the natural, 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, different color metals and resins, making them wearable for any time of day, and any event. Pearls are not conservative and demure anymore. They can be elegant, edgy, fun or funky…limited only by jewelry designer’s imagination – and yours.


White and Multicolor Pearls

Rare white or cream-colored natural pearls, the jewels of the sea, have always been collected by royalty and celebrities. “Pearls were treasured by kings in Europe, noble families in America, the Maharajahs of India and the Sheikhs of the Middle East,” said 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) Weave multiple color pearl strands together to dress up a pair of jeans.

Today, in addition to white, pearls in light grey, light pink, dark grey, and black have all become popular at auction. Many new cultured and costume styles feature different color pearls in the same piece. You can create your own multicolor pearl jewelry looks by layering necklaces or bracelets in different shades.

For Daytime

For a professional look try teaming a pearl choker or matinee-length necklace with a dress and jacket. Or wear two long strands of pearls with a good shirt and jeans on a more casual day. Simple pearl studs are my daytime go-to; they seem to light up my face more than any other earrings. Don’t own a pearl bracelet? Try wrapping your necklace three times around your wrist. (But beware: To avoid the “matchy-matchy” look, 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.
The necklace she had Cartier design around the pearl fetched $11.8 million at Christie’s New York in 2011.

By Night

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany'sIn the evening pearls take on special luster. With diamonds and precious or semiprecious gems they are favored by stylists for their red-carpet clients. You can achieve the same statement jewelry style 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 faux 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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