The Pearl, Historically

Everything old is new again, and the perfect evidence of this is the resurgence of pearl jewelry as a high-fashion accessory. The humble pearl has been adorning monarchs as far back as ancient Rome and China as the ultimate status symbol. Flash forward to the 1920s and pearls are christening the rebellious and iconic flapper, and thirty years after that they can still be found around the necks and in the ears of women, with only incremental stylistic changes.

All this is a testament to the pearl’s beauty and versatility, no doubt, but in order to assert its status as both timeless and trendy, the pearl has gone through a fresh iteration.

Pearls are a Modern Maven

Edgy, trendy pearls have been hot on the scene now for the last few seasons, but they don’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, we can go back through the glossy pages of fashion magazines and the influencer-laden Instagram feeds to watch the pearl’s transformation from Fall/Winter 2019/2020 to Spring/Summer 2020 in real-time.

In the past year or so, pearls have been breaking back into the trend-heavy scene. Necklaces were slightly understated, earrings were delicate. Pearls were still playing it somewhat safe.

Enter 2020. This season, we’re seeing more and more pearl pieces saturating the market, from the runway to the boardroom to the grocery store. It’s a wonder to see how effortlessly pearls step past the boundaries of personal fashion taste. You can truly find a piece for any particular style or look you are attempting to emulate.

The Fashion Chameleon

Because of how enduring the pearl is, it allows the designs it lends itself to more freedom and creativity. Right now, we’re seeing jewelry designs in every style, from delicately organic to tough and geometric to ornately baroque.

And because the pearl itself is such a classic staple, you don’t have to worry about your newly-purchased jewelry going out of style. The fresh designs only stand to add a bit of interest and personality to the rest of your wardrobe over the years.

Pearl strands are still a classic and will never go out of style. But why not mix the classic with the new?  Why not layer a long pearl strand with an edgy choker? Or perhaps pile on the bracelets or rings for a maximalist take on the trend.

Just as the pearl has transcended time periods, pearl jewelry can transcend its basic functionality and camouflage itself on other parts of your body. Pearl earrings can be fastened on a collar or headband, a matching pair can be broken up and stylized as just a single earring, a long necklace can wrap around the wrist for a chunky bracelet, or even around the ankle. (The anklet is going to be fashion’s next scene-stealer, mark my words.)

Withstanding the Test of Time

I was gifted my first pearl necklace for my First Communion, a simple, short strand, and I wore it to every quasi-nice event afterward. Unfortunately, the necklace snapped over my plate of sushi during a Valentine’s Day dinner with a high school boyfriend. I scrambled to gather whatever pearls I could and my mom took me to none other than Reis-Nichols to have the survivors matched and made into a new and improved necklace, one with some more pizzazz that matched my style better.

Now that I’m older, I gravitate towards pieces that make me think, “I would love to pass this along to my daughter one day,” just as my mom has done with her jewelry and clothing for me. I know my pearl necklace will get lots of love over the years, lending itself well to whatever type of outfit I don it with. I’m not worried about it being out of style when I can eventually give it to my daughter.

Check below for some of your author’s favorite pearl pieces in stock right now.



About the Author

Merchandising Coordinator and resident trendsetter, Anna Brookie, gives some background on the modern-day reemergence of the pearl and how to best incorporate it into today’s looks.

April 15, 2020