Pearls dominate the fashion press that hails all styles fair game, from your grandmother’s strand of Akoyas to more artsy freshwater baroque pieces. InStyle magazine paired pearls with a range of styles—feminine, eclectic, bohemian, minimal—citing pearls the perfect complement for work, a trip to the market, or a night out. Vogue Italia celebrates pearls in its 2018 jewelry report as universally flattering, bringing light to the face and adding just the right accent to any outfit.
Many designers for Spring 2018 paired their looks with pearls—from statement earrings to delicate cuff bracelets to timeless pendants—including Marni, Loewe, Celine, and Prabal Gurung. Gucci used lots of pearls to top off its collections, favoring multi-strand necklaces with statement side closure. The single strand pearl choker was a hit for Oscar de la Renta, and Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel explored pearls in all variations from jewelry to fashion embellishment.
“Fashion influencers and celebrities have popularized pearls as perfect with every outfit, as they post photos of themselves on social media, on the Red Carpet or in the coffee shop. There are no longer rules for when pearls should be worn and with what clothing they’re appropriate,” says Cora-Lee Colaizzi, director of marketing and catalogs and senior merchandiser Quality Gold, Fairfield, Ohio.
Undoubtedly fashion and jewelry go hand-in-hand, so it’s important to look at what’s happening on the runways and how jewelry fits into a woman’s evolving style. Kathleen Ross, creative director for Honora, a Richline company based in New York City says Honora’s pearl team watches the runways each season to see what major fashion brands are showing. “What’s the new neckline, how is the hair being worn, what are the accessories,” she asks. “These all play a major role in how women will style their outfits for the upcoming seasons. It drives our ability to determine the right silhouettes to use and complement their wardrobe.”
Honora regularly visits tradeshows in Europe and Asia to keep the brand’s finger on the pulse of what’s happening in pearl design. And undoubtedly, the raw material shows can dictate what is used. “Right now, we see a trend for larger pearls,” Ross says. “The market used to prohibit us from buying large sizes. New harvests in the last two years have allowed us to build collections using pearls from 11mm to 14mm.”
Rio Grande, a Richline company in Albuquerque, New Mexico cites in a recent trends report four popular design directions in pearls that mixes colors (both natural and dyed) to freshen up classic looks; incorporates fine details and filigree patterns on basic pearl cups and findings for contrast; serve as modern earring backs or redesigned studs with add-on jacket styles; and combined strands with mixed metal chains for a chic layered look.
The earring category, in particular is energized with playful styles like front-back pearl studs, pearls with convertible gem jackets, and threader styles on wire or chain, says Dana Cali, marketing and communications for Mastoloni, New York. She cites smaller, delicate pearl rings perfect for stacking and layering, and designs mixing white pearls with rough and pavé black diamonds popular.
In fact, Honora’s latest Noir collection showcases the season’s top trend of black diamonds with pearls in linear designs with a touch of orbital dimension. “The combination gives us a fun and flirty look that’s perfect day to night,” Ross says. “Our current collections are mostly in silver, however over the last two years we’ve incorporated more karat gold into our assortment. Diamonds are a favorite in the mix. This fall/winter season it’s all about the black diamond for us!”
Amanda Gizzi, director of public relations and special events for Jewelers of America says that while baroque shape pearls have been topping trends for the past few seasons, classic pearls with rounds in timeless white and gray tones dominating design. “Open cuffs with pearl accents is trending and bold statement earrings are replacing the stud trend that has slowed down,” she says. “Long necklaces are hot and long pearl strands fit naturally into this fashion trend.”
Kathy Grenier, vice president of business development for Imperial Pearl, notes an ebb and flow in trends with the Providence, Rhode Island based pearl house capturing everything it wanted to in design. “We’re excited about the different micro collections we’re introducing,” she says. “Designs with modern appeal, sleek silhouettes, less diamonds with a focus on the pearl in silver and gold.”
Imperial is looking collections as part of a lifestyle brand and how the jewelry works in a woman’s life. Designs that are easy to wear and combine well with other things in your wardrobe drive design, Grenier says, noting that versatility is a key factor in new collections like its brand’s Luster & Links necklaces and bracelets that attach in different ways with simple connector link and SmartPearls moveable pearl stations on chain. “Taking things apart and putting them back together or moving elements in a piece allow the wearer to customize her look.” She says the variety that exists in pearls inspires such diversity in design.
Also big are designs with small pearl accents, dainty and delicate, super fresh worn alone or layered with all jewelry styles, says Grenier, motifs like crosses and skeleton keys, different shapes, eternity bands set with tiny pearls.