No sparkling stone or glittering jewel has captivated people for thousands of years quite like the soft, shimmering pearl. Timeless and universal, the pearl is regarded as the rarest, most valuable and symbolic of all gems, celebrated as a metaphor for life itself by poets and painters across millennia and cultures.
Signifying purity and virtue, love and wisdom, power and status: pearls were believed to emanate mystical, healing powers. Throughout history, pearls have been a treasured gift of love for many occasions, celebrating friendships, milestones and successes — from important birthdays and anniversaries to a graduation, new job or promotion. Today’s birthstone for June, pearls also are a favorite of brides, a treasured wedding gift to signify love.
“Pearls have a great back story — an organic, natural, exotic, love story through time,” tells Kathy Grenier, vice president, business development for Imperial in Providence, Rhode Island. While classic pearls are always in style, with consumers interested in better quality goods, she also sees strong demand for designs with modern silhouettes, like pearl and chain necklaces.
Sentimental jewelry is always a top trend, and for good reason, it makes the gift giving experience that much more special for both giver and receiver when there’s sentiment behind the gift, says Dana Cali, marketing and communications for the New York based pearl house, Mastoloni.
“With pearls, we’re seeing a lot of sentimental personalization in the number of pearls in a strand or piece of jewelry, which can often represent the number of children, family members or years together,” Cali explains, citing examples like a ring with three pearls for three children, a necklace with five pearl stations for five children, or cluster earrings with ten pearls for a ten year anniversary.
Another variation of this trend is a solitaire pearl design with the number of diamonds accenting it representing said milestones, Cali shares. Think stud earrings with six diamonds for six children or a six-year anniversary. “Sentimental jewelry is a trend we see not only during the holidays but year-round.” Moreover, this trend is cheered as a modern version of family jewelry, a favorite for Mother’s Day and other special holidays, as well as the birth of a child.
The ultimate form of cultured pearl jewelry is the most versatile of all: the necklace, which comes in six lengths and comprises more than 60 percent of all cultured jewelry sales. Karen Crowe, marketing and merchandising for Quality Gold, Fairfield, Ohio, cites 6mm-7mm freshwater pearl stands, especially in 18-inch length with sterling silver clasp a top seller for the company, no matter the season. Classic styles like strands and stretch pearl bracelets, she says, are must-haves in any jeweler’s inventory.
Pearls for Brides & Girls
Pearls have a history as the wedding gem. Ancient Hindu writings tell the story of Kirshna, the protector, who gathered pearls from the sea to give to his daughter on her wedding day — the start of a centuries-old tradition of pearls as the perfect adornment for the bride.
According to The Knot, online wedding hub, eight out of 10 brides buy jewelry to wear on their wedding day, with pearls topping style lists in every bridal publication.
While pearl strands and stud earrings are timeless choices for wedding day jewels, Cali says brides today are choosing more fashion-focused designs. Popular pearl styles she cites include hoop, climber and tassel earrings, cuff bracelets and dainty pendant necklaces.
Grenier underscores that jewelers can expand the profitability of their wedding business with products they already have in store to style brides for their wedding day, as well as provide gifts for the wedding party. In fact, The Knot finds that six in 10 brides give gifts to their bridesmaids, with jewelry most popular, 60 percent of which give earrings.
“There’s more opportunity for jewelers beyond engagement and wedding rings to help their customers as wedding consultants,” advocates Grenier. “It requires jewelers plant the seeds of the meaningful ways they can help couples celebrate this occasion.”
Classic pearl studs in all varieties and colors are top sellers for bridesmaids. Cali also cites floating pearl pendants and tin cup style bracelets/necklaces popular as they can add pops of color to complement the bridesmaids’ dresses and can be worn after the wedding day.”
The Silver Promotion Service is pushing silver jewelry in the wedding category, shares Gloria Maccaroni, director of brand development for SPS. So, expect to see pearl and silver styles among the most popular gift choices.
Girls also love pearls, and for those participating in a wedding, as well as for other gift-giving occasions, there are many opportunities in this product category.
Companies like Marathon have a collection of small pearl studs and pearls on chain necklace and bracelet. Imperial has its Pearl-by-Pearl build a pearl necklace. Honora, a Richline brand based in New York, has its Honora Girls collection, including box sets of candy color pearl studs and ensembles, small pendants, and bracelets in silver. Wendy Fox, senior director of sales independent division, says the latest extensions feature neon color combinations and select styles with diamond accents added.