Pearls have a tougher job than most other gem materials in getting swept off the shelves. This isn’t because they’re not beautiful, extraordinarily rare (in some cases) or set in remarkably inventive designs… it’s because of the reputation they carry like a weight about their lustrous shoulders. Outside of our community of jewellery aficionados, there’s still a lingering idea that pearls are the mainstay of uptight, formal dressing and twinsets with little in the way of personality.
Of course, dear reader, we know better! Pearls are a versatile resource for fine and high jewellery and are being used in numerous ways; set, carved, studded with diamonds, and decorated. They can be spherical or baroque, shades of luminous gold or deep petrol-hued black, cultured or natural, freshwater or saltwater… the list goes on. And let’s not forget mother-of-pearl – that most ubiquitous of nacreous product – as well as ‘speciality’ conch and Melo Melo pearls that aren’t nacreous at all, but rather calcareous concretions with flame-like ripples on surfaces of blush and bubblegum pink and deep yellowish-oranges, respectively.
Today’s designers have become adept at seeing the potential in pearls, whether they’re combined with coloured gemstones and diamonds, or positioned as the headline act. I especially like when pearls are ‘injected’ with gemstones – a sort of layering magic act where gems are set into baroque pearls, like the pieces of Nina Runsdorf and Little H, for example. Of course, pearls really come into their own in high jewellery, where they are chosen for their colour, size and, in much rarer cases, their completely natural origins. What unites the best designs is the spirit – the designer has looked at the pearl, ignored centuries of classicism, and has had the imagination to invent something new. Not that we needed another reason to adore jewellery, reader, but this is a good one!