Pearl Paradise: Fresh Perspectives on the Reigning June Birthstone

With a universal love of pearls at the heart of jewellery content for the month of June, now’s the ideal time to dive deeper into this aquatic gem. From eye-catching celebrity moments and superior varieties to emerging pearl jewellery trends, we asked some of our favourite designers to share their pearls of wisdom and help us celebrate this ‘Queen of Gems’.

Over the years, we have read many articles discussing the “pearl revolution”, “the rise of the pearl”, and most notably “not your grandmothers’ pearls”, but in our opinion, pearls never left! They are a jewellery box staple and a universal symbol of prosperity, good fortune, strength, and calmness. Whether natural or cultured, pearls are among the most beloved gems worldwide and come in a wide variety of colours, with white and cream being the most familiar, though they extend to many other hues. Natural pearls form around a microscopic irritant in molluscs, while cultured pearls are created by the deliberate insertion of a bead or tissue that the mollusc coats with nacre. 

Model wearing a selection of Yana Nesper jewels in gold and pearl

Renowned for their timeless elegance, pearls are a wardrobe staple cherished by women of all ages. Historically, pearls have fascinated many cultures: Middle Eastern ancients saw them as teardrops from heaven and the Chinese believed they came from a dragon’s brain. Whether natural, cultured, or mythical, pearls have remained vital in jewellery designs, with top brands featuring them prominently. We spoke with several designers to get their opinions on some hot-topic pearl questions.

What is the best pearl variety to work with?


When we think of pearls, their effortless elegance and versatility come to mind, from simple necklaces to complex high jewellery. This is due to the array of pearl varieties. As Christine Salter, Creative Director of Paspaley Jewellery, states: “Pearls are often defined as a single category, but the various types of pearls are as different from each other as other gemstones in size, shape, colour, rarity, and value.” Paspaley, a family brand since the 1930s, primarily works with South Sea pearls. Melanie Georgacopoulos, known for her daring pearl-centric creations, collaborates with high jewellers like the Japanese house of Tasaki to push creative boundaries. She says: “I have a special love currently for golden South Sea pearls, their incredible colour is so alluring and pairs beautifully with yellow gold.”

Designers, like Peggy Grosz - Creative Director and Senior Vice President of Assael, and Anna Gaia - Creative Director of Utopia Jewels, prefer Fijian and Tahitian pearls for their varied colours and tones. Fiji Pearls come from the Koro Sea and are produced by the Pinctada Margaritifera Typica oyster, a subspecies of the Tahitian Black Pearl oyster. Tahitian pearls, primarily cultivated in French Polynesia, including Tahiti, are often referred to as black pearls and exhibit colours such as grey, black, and brown, with undertones of blue, green, purple, or pink, ideal for edgy designs.

Utopia Jewels ring in white gold, Tahitian pearl and champagne diamond, alongside Assael earrings in rose gold, jasper, spinel and Fijian pearl

What pearl variety is best for daily wear?


When choosing pearls for daily wear, our panel of experts highlights several key factors. Firstly, cost is crucial. Anna Gaia from Utopia Jewels suggests that freshwater cultured pearls are more accessible, making them ideal for everyday wear. Next, Peggy Grosz from Assael emphasises the significance of nacre thickness, recommending pearls with a strong coating for daily use. Melanie Georgacopoulos points out that the design of the piece is essential, especially for rings where the pearls should be well-protected. Mizuki Goltz, the Founder of Mizuki Jewels, values versatile gems like Akoya pearls and freshwater pearls for daily, work, or leisure wear. Her Safety Pin pearl earrings, famously worn by First Lady Dr Jill Biden during her husband's campaign tour, exemplify this versatility. Thakoon Panichgul, Creative Director at Tasaki, also advocates for Akoya pearls, noting their adaptable lustre and classic appeal, which enhance any style.

What are some of the best celebrity pearl moments?


Pearls have always been elegant accessories that empower women. Whether on the campaign trail or at a red carpet event, they have long been worn to exude glamour. Anna Gaia of Utopia Jewels reminds us that it was the fashion divas of the past who best wore pearls, such as Jackie Kennedy, known for her impeccable style, pairing her famous strand of pearls with a white shirt and summer trousers, and Coco Chanel with her numerous long strands of pearls. Milan Chokshi finds endless inspiration in Marilyn Monroe's "The Last Sitting Pearls" photography series by Bert Stern, where the actress seductively plays with long strands of pearls.

Today, pearls continue to be a favourite among Hollywood's elite. Yoko London's pearl designs have adorned many famous women, including Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, and Lady Gaga. In 2023, Emma Thompson wore Melanie Georgacopoulos pieces to the BAFTA Awards, including a matching necklace, earrings, and ring from her Baroque collection. Last year, film auteur Baz Luhrmann showcased his Australian heritage by wearing Paspaley pearls to the Met Gala. Pearls have also become a staple accessory in TV’s most fashion-focused series. German jewellery designer Yana Nesper’s creations were featured in episodes of the hit series Emily in Paris, worn by characters such as Emily (Lily Collins) and Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu).

One of the biggest pearl highlights in Hollywood history happened this year during the release of the blockbuster Barbie movie. Actress Margot Robbie’s wardrobe, inspired by the original Barbie doll outfits as conceived and styled by Andrew Mukamal, featured strands of pearls. “Seeing Margot Robbie in three strands of Assael large South Sea pearls was a proud moment for us all,” says Peggy, crediting this fashion look as a pivotal moment for pearls, ensuring their longevity as an elegant yet youthful stone. Another significant moment was Cate Blanchett’s upcycled body chain of Tahitian pearls at the 2024 BAFTAs. Made by Louis Vuitton’s artistic director of watches and jewellery, the design was crafted from five of the Maison’s archival high jewellery pieces.

What are the upcoming trends in pearl jewellery?


According to our experts, one of the key trends in pearl jewellery is a more modern and laidback styling. Peggy Grosz of Assael believes that the popularity of choker and dog collar lengths with multiple rows or strands is on the rise, adding a fresh twist to classic pearl necklaces. Melanie Georgacopoulos sees the demise of the historical fussy and formal wearing of pearls, now being styled in fun ways, with experimentation in scale, shape, and colour to create a contemporary feel, whilst Yana Nesper emphasises the rise of layering, where multiple necklaces or bracelets can be thrown together.

Pearls have also become the most gender-fluid gem on the market. They have surged in popularity among male celebrities, with figures such as Usher, Justin Bieber, and Harry Styles effortlessly wearing pearl accessories at red carpet events and even to the supermarket, making a bold fashion statement. This shift highlights pearls' versatility and their acceptance as a unisex accessory, breaking traditional gender norms and embracing a more inclusive fashion landscape.

Above all, innovative and versatile designs are leading the pearl jewellery trends. Milan Chokshi’s clients are leaning towards pieces featuring unique pearls, with different shapes, colours, and sizes becoming increasingly popular. Thakoon Panichgul uses pearls in chokers with multiple layers and playful gold accents, making them appealing to a younger audience. Anna Gaia of Utopia Jewels sees a rise in stackable rings with single pearls in minimalist settings. Perhaps Michael Hakimian, CEO of Yoko London says it best: “We are seeing huge demand for flexible pieces which can easily be worn from day to night; designs which feature contemporary twists on classical looks, making everyday glamour easily accessible”.

Why do you love working with pearls?


The nine brands and designers consulted for this article are leading experts in pearls, each with a unique interpretation of what makes the most beautiful pearl jewels. However, they all agree that they love working with pearls for their unique qualities and endless versatility. Pearls are appreciated for their elegance, glowing rather than sparkling like diamonds, enhancing the colours of other gemstones with their depth and texture. They love their diverse types and colourways, sizes, and shapes. However, above all, they value the pearl as a gem that is practically untouched by human hands. Unaltered, it is taken straight from the oyster and fashioned into a piece of jewellery that will last for generations. Their natural beauty and unique history have allowed them to stand the test of time and will remain an icon in the gemological world forever.

Model wearing Paspaley Rockpool Starfish necklace in platinum, Keshi Baroque Australian South Sea Pearl and diamond

There’s no doubt pearls are timeless and enduring. Whether adorning a simple necklace or a bold, chunky choker, this adaptable and versatile gem is here to stay, with its allure growing ever brighter. The designs below showcase just a few of the fresh, creative, and innovative pearl pieces available on the market today. Which one will you choose to add to your collection?

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