Pearls. A staple for the ages. Loved by Royalty. Worn by both women and men. One of nature’s greatest bounties. But if you are still stuck in the mindset of twinset and pearls, now is the time to get up to speed with the variety of styles, shapes and colours of pearls.
More than a simple white strand
Back in the fifties when women wore tucked in conservative suits and a single strand of pearls, the predominant shape and colour of pearls was round and white. Today, with our greater understanding of how pearls are formed by the mollusks, we have developed an industry that can help nature to produce more, and more varied shapes than before.
Spoilt for choice
Whether you go for a mabe pearl (half domed shape), a keishi pearl (pure nacre with no irritant introduced), a button pearl (flat on the back), a potato pearl (roughly oval in shape and is strung along its longest axis), a baroque pearl (another type of larger irregular pearl), a coin pearl (circular but flattish on both large sides), a biwa pearl (oblong and irregular on its surface) or a ming pearl (generally larger and rarer than other pearls because they are grown one at a time), there is a shape and size for everyone.
Of course, not all pearls are created equal, and while some pearls take a year to develop in the mollusk, in some cases the larger, more unique pearls can take up to seven years. And given that it takes three years for a mollusk to achieve maturity and be able to produce pearls, these precious jewels of the sea require patience.
Dyed pearls and semi-precious stones
Another recent development in the advancement of pearl jewellery has been the dying of pearls and the addition of semi-precious stones to bring them more in line with fashion dressing.
Today pearls come in many colours of the rainbow, from pastel pinks, lilacs and greys, to stronger colours like magenta, mint and bronze.
Pearls are always appropriate
Whatever your taste, whether it be traditional or contemporary, pearls make a classy finishing touch to any outfit and are a much underrated yet versatile accessory. As the late first lady of the US, Jackie Kennedy Onassis once said, ‘Pearls are always appropriate’. Who are we to argue?