Pearl Jewellery: A Look at Fashion’s Most Timeless Trend

A gemstone that has effortlessly endured the test of time, the pearl represents one of the biggest and longest lasting trends to have dominated the jewellery world. 

No longer reserved for special occasions or your grandma’s jewellery box, pearl jewellery continues to trend in 2020, constantly showcased in new and exciting ways by top designers and brands. But it’s fair to say that this lustrous gemstone has come a long way over the centuries, consistently adapting and updating to reflect the latest jewellery trends.  

We’re here to explore the fascinating journey behind this precious stone, before arriving at the best ways to give your outfit a pearly update today.

Looking for advice on how to look after pearl jewellery? Not to worry – we’ll be covering that too!

Read on as we dive deep into the history and trends surrounding pearl jewellery, from its mysterious beginnings in Ancient China to becoming a staple in every woman’s jewellery box today…

A Brief History of Pearl Jewellery…

Ancient Greece

Pearls were used in jewellery as early as Ancient Greece, but it’s likely they dated back even further than this. For centuries they remained one of the most valuable gemstones in many cultures, often reserved for royalty.


The Pearl Age (15th and 16th centuries)

Pearl jewellery becomes wildly popular among European royals and aristocrats following the discovery of an abundance of pearls in Central and South America.


1893

The first ever cultured pearls are developed by K. Mikimoto in Japan. In turn, pearl jewellery becomes much more accessible, no longer reliant on rare natural pearls.


1935

More than 350 pearl farms are now operating in Japan, producing around 10 million cultured pearls per year.


1936

Pearl jewellery begins to seep into popular culture. In this year, we see the iconic Coco Chanel portrait in which she wears multiple strands of pearls draped over her shoulders.


1961

Audrey Hepburn plays Holly Golighty in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and we see that unforgettable outfit: the black Givenchy dress, opera gloves, and iconic multi-strand pearl necklace.


Autumn/Winter 2013

After a definite dip in popularity for pearl jewellery in recent decades, the pearl is reimagined on the runways in dramatic and innovative ways. Pearl fever soon reaches the high streets, and we see an explosion of costume jewellery featuring faux pearls, including oversized pearl cocktail rings and ornate ear jackets.


2013-Now

Pearls haven’t left the runways since. The OTT styles of the initial pearl renaissance have since softened slightly, and now we see designs that are a little more inventive and artistic. Pearl jewellery today retains the class and sophistication associated with this gemstone in the past, complete with trendy design updates that appeal to the fashion-forward woman.

Following its rich and extensive past, what is pearl jewellery now? It can be made up of natural or cultured pearls, however the former are much rarer and much more expensive.

How to Wear Pearl Jewellery

In our recent blog post on the biggest jewellery trends of spring/summer 2020, we confirmed that pearls are most definitely here to stay. But how should you be wearing this delicate gemstone? 

Once upon a time, pearl jewellery was considered too precious and formal for everyday wear. Nowadays, this shimmering stone comes in so many different forms that there is truly a piece of pearl jewellery for every occasion. 

Whether you’re giving your office outfit a chic update with some pearly studs or looking for the perfect piece of bridal jewellery, read on for our advice on how to wear pearl jewellery for any occasion. 

Everyday

Many women believe that pearls should be reserved for special occasions, in part due to their delicacy. While it’s true that wearing your pearls every single day could increase the risk of damage, this can be avoided with proper pearl jewellery care (more on this later!). 

With this in mind, there is really no reason not to break out the pearls when figuring out your everyday outfit! Whether you’re heading to the office or simply running a few errands, a pair of simple pearl stud earrings will add instant class to your look. 

Claudia Bradby Couture Pearl Stud Earrings
Claudia Bradby Lyra Silver Wing & Pearl Left Ear Climber
Joshua James Allure Pearl Stud Earrings

Prefer something a little more playful? Some of our favourite designer brands have put a truly refreshing take on pearl jewellery, perfectly suited to those with a more laid back and youthful style. Consider accessorising your outfit with a Thomas Sabo pearl bracelet – you can even personalise it with a few of your favourite charms! 

Thomas Sabo Pearl Charm Bracelet
Thomas Sabo Pink Rose Quartz & Pearl Charm Bracelet

Nomination Italy has also given the classic pearl a trendy update this year, with a collection of rose gold plated and pearl necklaces and bracelets. These cute pieces are perfect for accessorising your spring/summer everyday style, featuring a playful mix of floral and fruity motifs. 

Nomination Mon Amour Rose Gold Plated & White Pearls Strawberry T-Bar Bracelet
Nomination Antibes Silver with White CZ & Freshwater Pearls Anchor Necklace
Nomination Mon Amour Rose Gold Plated & White Pearls Mixed Bracelet

In summary: don’t be afraid to incorporate pearls in your everyday style! There are endless ways to do it, no matter your personal style preference. 

Special Occasions

Accessorising your outfit with pearl jewellery is the perfect way to add just a touch of classic romance and sophistication to your look, perfect for refining your special occasion style. 

The unique shimmer of the pearl is alluring yet classy; eye-catching yet subtle. A delicate pearl necklace and/or set of pearl drop earrings will add a delicate and timeless sense of glamour to your style, ideal for every occasion from romantic dinner dates to upscale cocktail parties. 

This shimmering gemstone speaks for itself, but if you prefer a touch of sparkle, you may be drawn to a piece of pearl jewellery accentuated by dazzling cubic zirconia or even diamonds. Make sure to keep the rest of your outfit simple and sophisticated, and coordinate with a matching pearl necklace and earring set.

Allure Silver & Pearl Stretch Bracelet
Allure Silver & Pearl Necklace
Allure Silver CZ & Pearl Long Drop Earrings
Allure Silver & Pearl Bracelet

And for ultimate glamour, consider some Swarovski pearl jewellery. These pearls are actually a special type of crystal, skilfully crafted and treated to emulate the elegant lustre of real pearls. They’re also more durable than genuine pearls – perfect for withstanding a night of wear and tear on the town! Swarovski puts a dazzling spin on pearl jewellery with their signature crystals and on-trend designs, ideal for the glamorous woman who loves to stand out from the crowd.

Pearl Jewellery for Brides

In many cultures, pearls have long been a bridal jewellery staple. Many people view them as a symbol of a long and happy marriage ahead. 

A delicate single pearl necklace from the Joshua James Allure collection or the traditional string of pearls can be the perfect finishing touch to the classic bride’s ensemble, along with a pair of matching pearl drop earrings and bracelet. And if you enjoy a touch of sparkle? Consider treating yourself to a diamond and pearl necklace and earring set – it is your wedding, after all! 

Shop the Joshua James Allure Collection for more classic pearl bridal jewellery

But what about the non-classic bride? Thanks to the innovation of many modern jewellery designers, you can now find an abundance of pearl wedding jewellery to suit every style, from boho-luxe to contemporary luxury.

For the bohemian bride, we love the pearl jewellery from ChloBo’s Confetti Falls collection. Specifically designed for weddings, these beautiful pearl necklaces and bracelets are lovingly handcrafted and perfect for layering to create a more eclectic look.

If you prefer something more avant-garde and luxurious, a delicate pearl pendant and set of earrings from the Shaun Leane Cherry Blossom collection could be exactly what you’re looking for. These stunning pieces combine eye-catching floral silhouettes with lustrous white pearls, distinctly romantic with a sense of fine artistry. 

All in all, it’s clear to see that pearl wedding jewellery is nowhere near becoming a dated tradition. Our diverse selection of pearl jewellery for brides offers styles for every woman, whether her taste is beautifully classic or contemporary chic!

How to Look After Pearl Jewellery

Pearls are prized for their delicacy, but this does come with one small caveat: they generally require a more attentive level of care. 

We talk about how to clean your pearls in our complete jewellery cleaning guide, covering our favourite pearl cleaning products (Connoisseurs Advanced Dazzle Drops and Connoisseurs Delicate Jewellery Cleaner) and how to use them.

However, maintaining the lustre of your pearl jewellery extends beyond routine cleaning. Here are our top pearl jewellery care tips:

  • Wear them as much as possible: the natural oils from your skin actually enhance the radiance of your pearls! Just like applying moisturiser to your skin to prevent dryness, pearls also appreciate a little help to stay hydrated and dewy.
  • Avoid contact with water: that includes everything from swimming to washing the dishes.
  • Wipe your pearls down after wearing: this is to remove any traces of substances such as perfume or perspiration, which can damage the pearl’s delicate outer layer (nacre) and reduce lustre. 
  • Never hang up your pearl necklaces or bracelets: as elegant as they may look hanging from a jewellery stand, the silk string will stretch over time. Pearl necklaces and bracelets should always be laid flat when not in use.
  • Store pearls separately: due to their delicacy, pearls can be scratched by metals and other gemstones when stored side by side. Consider keeping them safe in their own compartment in your jewellery box. 
  • Don’t store them in airtight bags: remember what we said about pearls needing hydration? Without enough moisture, they can crack. Store them in a soft cloth or pouch, ideally made of silk. 

Pearl Jewellery at Joshua James

We hope you’ve enjoyed our little excursion into the beautiful world of pearls! Remember that you can browse a vast and varied range of pearl jewellery here at Joshua James, whether your taste is a Thomas Sabo pearl bracelet, a sophisticated single pearl necklace or a luxurious set of diamond and pearl earrings.

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