Pearls are always appropriate – Jackie Kennedy.
Where pearls used to have a reserved and stale image, I see all around me that the pearl is making a comeback. And how!
Almost every goldsmith/designer I follow on Instagram uses pearls in their jewellery. And everyone processes and uses these pearls in their own way. I find it tremendously inspiring to see the pearl being embraced again, and she is making a remarkable comeback.
And gentlemen, take note: men can wear pearls, too. During various fashion moments and on several red carpets, gentlemen were spotted wearing pearls.
There are so many different ways to incorporate pearls into jewellery. Give 10 of my colleagues the same assignment, “Make a ring with one white Akoya pearl”, and you get ten different outcomes.
I list some beautiful and unusual styles from various designers and goldsmiths to sketch an idea and inspire. In no particular order, these designers are all exceptional and skilled in their way and level.
Classic and soft – That is the style of my Belgian colleague Marie Béndicte. She works with various types of pearls and incorporates them into classically stylish jewellery. Soft and rounded shapes with brilliant colour combinations. Her energy and love for the pearl are reflected in every pearl jewel.
Robust – My colleague Sonja Hunefeld, of Odinski, from The Hague, often makes jewellery with a strong look. And despite the word “robust,” she also incorporates pearls. For example, she even designed a brooch with a pearl trapped in a mousetrap. Genius! But each of her beautiful designs gives the pearl a throne and the wearer a crown. Each piece is created from A to Z with the idea that anything is possible and nothing is impossible.
Melanie Georgacopoulos – the challenge is in the image of the pearl itself. I have been following Melanie on Instagram for a while and find her work enchanting. Incorporating pearls and mother of pearl (or MOP) into jewellery, inspired and challenged by the prevailing preconceptions about pearls. Melanie is internationally known and partners with Tasaki, one of Japan’s largest jewellery houses, with its own Pearl farm.
Eline van de Laag by MOYA – playful, elegant and movement. Eline designs and creates jewellery in which pearls move and hold secrets. For example, she has her iconic “Oyster” ring, in which the pearls roll. But her necklace ‘ Can you keep a secret’ is a proverbial gem for me! The photos below show precisely what secret these pearls hold.
The founder of the cultivated pearl – Mikimoto. In 1893, it was Kokichi Mikimoto who made the first cultivated pearl. The company is now among the world leaders in using and cultivating pearls. Below are some of my favourite pieces. The pink one is named a conch pearl. Very rare and natural!
Types and sizes.
Pearls have a unique appearance. And there are several kinds of cultivated pearls, each with its characteristics and properties.
My absolute favourite is the Tahiti pearl. Also called the one and only “black” pearl. Tahiti pearls are saltwater pearls and often have beautiful metallic-looking dark colours. I have a weakness for the so-called “Peacock” Tahiti pearls. An appearance that makes multiple colours run across one pearl.
The Tahiti occurs in sizes ranging from 8mm to 18mm. More minor is quite rare and expensive.
Fun fact: they may be called Tahiti pearls, but this pearl is not grown on Tahiti itself. This species of pearl is cultivated in the waters surrounding the archipelago of French Polynesia, to which Tahiti does belong. But this entire archipelago combined has a total area the size of Europe.
The cultivated species, in a nutshell.
There are four types of cultivated pearls. The Tahitian pearl is one of them; I briefly described the other pearls below. The world of pearls is magnificent, and I would love to take you into that world in a future blog.
- Freshwater pearls – A classic pearl with mostly soft pastel shades and comes in many sizes and shapes. From tiny to a baroque shape. It is grown in a mussel rather than an oyster, mainly in China.
- Akoya pearls – These pearls are grown in Japan and are known for the long white cords we are all familiar with. These white pearls are best known for their beautiful round appearance and high lustre. It can grow 2mm to 10mm in size.
- South Sea pearls – Perhaps the Rolls Royce among cultured pearls. Occur in white and gold/yellow and are grown around the Philippines and Indonesia. They are genuinely magnificent pearls, just often tricky to grow. The process takes a long time, and numerous external influences can cause a harvest to fail. It can grow 8mm to 20mm in size.
So pearls are not just white and only round. Pearls are versatile, sophisticated, and robust, with something magical about them. Consequently, there is something extraordinary about the feel of a pearl on the skin: cold but soft. What is also unique about pearls is that they are ready for use when harvested and do not require further processing, as with gemstones.
Pearls are beautiful natural products we humans have long used to adorn ourselves. They represent love, virginity, purity, and mourning and are fashion statements. There are many myths and wonderful stories surrounding pearls, and more and more people know their way around them.
They serve as inspiration; they are souvenirs of special moments and can last for generations by repeatedly capturing and passing on stories.
Do you have pearls in your personal jewellery collection? Then have it checked at least once a year by a reputable goldsmith or jeweller. A soft polishing cloth will do wonders for your pearl necklace or ring.
This way, you can continue to enjoy your pearl jewellery yourself.