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How to Successfully Modernize Pearls

Pearls are so much more than the prim jewels your grandmother wore. Make them cool with tips from Tammi Young.


Pearls are those alluring, creamy beads that have adorned women for millennia. Throughout history, pearls have graced royalty and seen as a symbol of wealth and position.

How to Successfully Modernize Pearls

Enter Coco Chanel and the introduction of the faux pearl. Chanel was instrumental in making these demure gems available to the average woman. She was also a driving force in making pearls fashion-forward.

Fast forward to this decade and pearls remind us more of our grandmothers, mothers, or aunts. We remember the delicate pearl strands and stud earrings. All very nice, but not the modern look many of us desire.

How to Successfully Rock Pearls the Modern Way

Pearls easily stand alone and pair with every other gemstone and metal to create amazing jewelry.

But how to elevate pearls from elderly and dated to something modern and chic? Try these tips:

Look for designs that use modern metals such as gold, bronze, copper, or gunmetal.

Pair pearls with unexpected stones such as druzy, turquoise, lapis lazuli, or watermelon tourmaline.

Do not shy away from layering pearls. Your best strand of pearls looks amazing layered with other delicate necklaces and chains. Consider stacking rings or finding an stunning statement ring with pearls. A personal favorite is to layer pearl bracelets with other bracelets for an eclectic look.

Couple pearls with unusual elements such as spikes, free-form, or cubes. These elements elevate the pearl from plain and ordinary to something fresh. A favorite look is minimalist or graphic elements joined with the demure curves of the pearl.

Of course, if you have a beautiful pair of pearl studs, wear them! Modernize the look with a statement necklace, cuff bracelet, or layers.

Types of Pearls

Pearls are available in many forms from natural to imitation.

Chanel did not shy away from faux pearls in her designs. Often her opera pearls (the long strands) were created using high-quality artificial pearls.
Artificial pearls are perfect for those pieces of jewelry that you want to wear without worry. Of course, faux pearls do not have the luster and depth of color that natural or cultured pearls. They are a perfect alternative for those who either cannot or do not wish to purchase authentic pearls but want the look.

Natural pearls do have color depending upon the mollusk. Colors range from white, cream, rose, gold, to the stunning iris of Tahitian pearls.



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