Pardon us for showing our Queer Eye, but JVN has always it best: sometimes, you need a moment. This doesn't refer to a unit of time, obviously, but rather, a thematically and energetically cohesive aesthetic experience. That is perhaps a round-a-bout way of saying that when you wear pearls, you should embrace everything that pearls bring with them: centuries of history, an elegant, opalescent aesthetic, and a connotation of timeless class.
Pearls have long been considered favourites of society's upper echelon, and while we distain the idea of pearls as inaccessible for that reason, this affiliation has established the pearl as an icon of class, elegance, opulence, and good taste.
That's why everyone should have a pearl moment.
Featuring the Amaris Veil.
This spotlight post will teach you everything you need to know about buying, caring for, and talking about pearls. Slide on your little black dress and clip up your best Audrey Hepburn french-twist and hold on—because these are not your grandma's pearls.
There is perhaps no other naturally occurring material which has so captured the imagination and hearts of so many disparate cultures. The fascination with that gorgeous sheen is said to have dated way back from the time of Rome's glory days and Cleopatra's reign, when Caligula made his horse a pearl necklace after naming him a consul, and when Cleopatra apparently crushed a pearl into a glass of wine to fabricate the most expensive dinner in history.
Pearls have always been signs of wealth, luxury, and nobility. It's impossible to say who first discovered pearls, but the important thing to know is that natural pearls are made by oysters. Oysters will layer thin amounts of a pearlescent substance called nacre that, when built up enough, creates the beautiful spherical shape and shimmery surface.
That pearls are discrete but naturally occurring makes them seem like something heavenly, combining the perfect geometry of a sphere with its perfectly smooth surface.
"The principal oyster beds lay in the Persian Gulf, along the coasts of India and in the Red Sea. Chinese pearls came mostly from rivers and lakes whilst Japanese pearls were found in salt water," according to the Pearl Market.
In the early 20th century, cultured pearls were invented; from there, the pearl market has seen exponential growth and significant drops in price.
Our classic Sofie Hairpiece.
There are two kinds of pearls: natural and cultured. Natural pearls are created by oysters on their own, as part of their natural life processes. Cultured pearls are created by introducing an irritant to the oyster which induces the production of nacre, thereby prompting the creation of a pearl.
Natural pearls are worth much more, often, than cultured pearls, but the truth is that their level of quality is very similar. They are often indiscernibly different in size, shape, colour and texture, making cultured pearls an excellent option for people not keen to spend $20,000 per strand.
Most cultured pearls come from the South Sea, and the principal oyster beds were found in Persia. Pearls are also produced, however, throughout French Polynesia, China, Japan, and beyond.
Pearls are defined by their uniformity and their unparalleled and singular opalescent texture and look. Nacre functions as such to create what seems like interwoven rainbows that scatter across an otherwise white or off white (or pink, blue, grey, or black!) surface in the light. Pearls are light, smooth, and are truly perfect for jewelry right from the start (have you seen raw diamonds? Quite a difference!).
Our Aisling Sash.
Pearls, however, are a bit finicky. They were forged in water, remember, so they need moisture consistently, or they may crack. Yeah. Luckily, all you need to do to preserve them is wear them. See above: pearl moment.
Pearls should be stored separately from your other jewelry, which may scratch or damage the pearl's comparatively soft surface. But they should not be stored in an airtight container or bag, as they need to draw moisture from the air.
Their care is quite straightforward. Put them on after your perfume or lotions, and do your best to keep other chemicals away, as the nacre can be worn through by even slightly irritating substances, like most cleaning agents, makeup, or hairspray.
Simply use a very soft cloth to gently wipe away any sweat or oils which have transferred from you to the pearls when you put them away. Be sure to avoid submerging the pearls in water altogether, and have your piece restrung every one to two years. It's important to have your pearls strung on silk with knots between each individual pearl so that they do not rub together.
Our Elenna Veil.
Meanings & mythologies
Like Caligula's horse and Cleopatra's wine, pearls have long been the favourite of history's royalty. But they also occupy key parts of many different religions.
In the bible, you'll probably recall mention of the "Pearly Gates" behind which Heaven lays. Similarly, Krishna, in Hindu mythology, gifted his beloved Rukmini pearls on the day they were wed. The ancient Greeks believed pearls to be the tears of Aphrodite, cast down to Earth.
Pearls are widely considered the world's first ever gem, and the Romans and early British royalty and high government declared that only the "high born" were noble enough to wear them. Today, they are considered symbols of purity, loyalty, fidelity, and goodness. This is why, for centuries, women have worn pearls on their wedding days.
Audrey Hepburn, Queen Elizabeth II, and Jackie Kennedy (though hers were apparently glass) were well known for their love of pearls, and these figures are broadly who pearls are associated with today. Breakfast at Tiffany's may actually be a terrible movie with a serious racism problem, but we can still appreciate the fashion: in no small part thanks to Hepburn's long black dress and pearl necklaces.
There you have it: a legacy rich enough to make you clutch your pearls (or buy some pearls to clutch).
Do you have any questions about pearls? We'd love to help! Let us know below or use our Contact page.