I am certainly not alone, but lately, I have been obsessed with pearls. Scratch that. I have always been obsessed with pearls. I have classic Tiffany pearl studs, a very long strand I was given for coming out in high school. (Yes, I was a debutante, I will dig up my picture, very old school.) Then, I inherited a triple-strand bracelet of 8mm Akoya pearls from my grandmother and later, convinced my husband I truly wouldn’t survive without a 18′ strand of beautiful gray Tahitians. I tried wearing them–I had them shortened, re-strung etc. but they never felt right. I would always put them on, but take them off before I left the house. I wanted to wear my pearls with a t-shirt, but they always felt fussy. It took me a while, but I have finally managed to create ways to wear pearls that feel modern, easy, and different. As my jewelry collection evolves, one idea that keeps resurfacing when I am imagining a new design is that it should be something timeless, like a treasure pulled out of your grandmother’s jewelry box, but slightly twisted so it doesn’t feel outdated.
First, I decided to create a pair of unapologetically large, standout drop earrings. I am not one for a lot of subtlety, and actually think it’s cooler if you go a bit big instead of playing it safe. Hence, my South Sea Pearl Drops on my Half Link Hoops, below. South Sea pearls are the ultimate in quality and they are expensive, but how many pearl earrings does one need to own? (Plus you can wear the hoops solo, so it’s a two-for-one.)
One of my favorite models, Vivienne Rohner, below, consistently wears a large pair of pearl earrings with her everyday clothes, which I find very charming. I wear mine with button-downs and cashmere sweaters.
Next up came Tahitian and now fresh water Baroque pendants. I prefer them worn on a long, elegant chain, like model Abi Fox did in my last campaign, below.
Then, this summer, I started doubling up the chain, which I rather like.
While a Tahitian drop is an investment (typically $2000 plus), fresh water Baroques are a better value and their shape and coloring is incredible. The pieces below are each $790 (and approx similar size to the Tahitian). They aren’t up on my site yet, but if you’re interested, either email or DM me.
The earrings and pendants were easy, but I still wanted to figure out how to utilize the beautiful pearl strands languishing in my jewelry box. I decided to upcycle them, to mix them up with different sizes and shapes and create a more modern closure which you could also add pendants to to change up the look. And voila, my Tahitians when from this….
To an almost double length strand of different sizes and shades of grey. (Pricing for upcycling starts with a purchase of the rather substantial clasp and restringing, $1975, and goes up from there.)
My inspiration was Tilda Swinton’s casually-worn, exquisite strand in I Am Love. (Hers are longer, bigger and I am sure of the best quality and far more expensive, not that any Tahitians are inexpensive.)
Then for my grandmother’s bracelet, which I had re-strung as a choker and haven’t worn in over 20 years….I decided to add some asymmetry with a grey ombre effect and single randomly placed ones. (For instance this would run $1975 for clasp and restringing and another $800 for eight 8mm grey Tahitian pearl additions. The full necklace would start at $4775, depending on quality choice of white Akoya’s.)
I like the idea of creating something a little off…going from classic to one-a-kind. It reminds me of a quote from Miuccia Prada that she gave Bazaar in the 90s when I worked there (I will never be able to find it, because archives then aren’t like archives today, but let me tell you, we gushed over it and all wanted to copy her), in which she talked about wearing pearls, but in a subversive way, such as under your cashmere sweater.
You wear jewelry because it makes you feel good, and pearls feel amazing. You can be sure, I will be tucking my long grey strand under my grey cashmere sweaters this fall. And, if you are interested in either upcycling your pearls, or creating a new unique strand, please either email or DM me. I would love to help!