A pastel twinset, neat pleated skirt, sensible shoes, and a string of pearls. An iconic combo beloved by grandma’s across the land. Oh, and the Queen. Pearls have never had the edgiest reputation. Beautiful? Yep. Classic? Certainly. Elegant? Tick. Maybe you’d wear pearls on your wedding day, if you were going for an ultra-traditional ceremony, but it’s unlikely pearl jewellery was at the top of your dream jewellery wish list.
Hold up, though… Pearls have had the biggest glow-up in the jewellery box and some of the leading designer jewellery labels (many of them led by women) are reimagining pearls and shaking off their staid reputation. Pearls are being set into ear cuffs or single earrings… they’re twisted with quirky, colourful beads or interlaced with gold chains. The biggest pearls look like mini sculptures and are being shown-off solo but we’ve also spotted plenty of faux pearls that work for high street budgets too.
Copenhagen-based fine jeweller Sophie Bille Brahe is at the vanguard of the pearl’s renaissance: “I love that pearls are an organic, raw material that are created naturally by the earth and yet they are so beautiful without needing to be modified. The way I create jewellery is much more about taking away, instead of adding. I always think, how can you show a pearl? I don’t feel a setting should ever take the focus away from the material.”
How does Sophie suggest wearing your pearls to tap into their modern incarnation? “I really want my jewellery to be something that is worn every day so it can become a part of who you are. I love to pair a casual T-shirt with my pearl Peggy necklace or Botticelli pearl earrings. I also like to wear my jewellery in subtle locations on the body, on the ankle, or the back of the neck. I like the way the jewellery sits and does not feel too obvious.”
So, where to find the fashion pack’s favourite pearls? Anissa Kermiche has created an incredible wrap-around ring that would look divine with an oat milk mani and we’ve fallen for Completedworks’ pearl knuckleduster ring and Pearl Octopuss.y’s giant faux pearl necklace with a convertible chain.
Far less expensive are the playful pieces we spotted on ASOS. There’s a cute faux pearl strand necklace with a kitsch cherry charm and a set of two bracelets that mix pearls with gold chains. Another way the old-fashioned view of pearls is getting refreshed is by clashing their pale white shade with bold yellow gold. & Other Stories’ pearl hoop earrings mix up the expected good hoop shape with the unexpected gem. Astrid & Miyu’s ear cuff is certainly part of the new breed of pearl jewellery too. Bold, fun, quirky and fresh, this season the girls in pearls are more likely to wear their jewels with leather trousers, trainers and denim. We love to see it.