It’s no secret that pearls are in the middle of a renaissance right now, for which many credit Millennials and pop culture icons like Taylor Swift, Rihanna, and Kim Kardashian, who are among pearls’ biggest advocates.
Trends identified in 2018 by The Knot, mega online wedding networking hub, reveal that brides are not only wearing pearl jewelry, but also working pearls through their hair and favoring dresses with pearls sewn onto the fabric.
Pearls have a long 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 of the bride and gift to give someone you love.
The very traits that make pearls a perfect fashion accessory make it an outstanding choice for the bride and her entourage. Pearls exude confidence, while never pulling attention away from the person wearing them, describes Kathy Grenier, Vice President of Business Development for the Providence, Rhode Island based Imperial Pearl. “Pearls are flattering to any complexion, and capture the light in such a way that casts a natural glow on the skin.”
Timeless, Versatile Key
Brides favor classic pearl styles, particularly stud earrings and strands that can be worn long past the wedding day. Studs are especially popular with add-ons like jackets and drops that can easily change up the look. Likewise, strands or pearl necklaces with the ability to link and layer in different ways keep things fresh.
“Whatever life you lead, pearl studs and strands go beyond the test of time,” says Grenier, who notes that recent royal weddings where gems and pearls were adornments-of-choice are inspiring trends for Akoya pearls with emeralds, rubies and sapphires set in yellow gold. With the popularity of rose gold in wedding rings, Imperial’s latest line couples Akoya or pink freshwater pearls with morganite set in this romantically warm metal.
Traditionally classic styles with a contemporary twist are bridal bestsellers, concurs Dana Cali, Marketing and Communications for Mastoloni Pearls, New York. Earrings are No. 1, simple designs, nothing that’s too over the top, she describes, citing front-back convertible styles preferred.
Cali considers freshwater pearls perfect for gift giving because of the variety of colors and shapes, luster, iridescence, and price! “Styles range from simple button studs and floating pendants to 54- and 100-inch endless style ropes in an array of color and shape combinations,” she says, hailing pearl ropes the gift that keeps on giving. You can wear them so many different ways depending on mood, outfit, and occasion. It’s a lot of look for a reasonable cost.” Freshwater pearls are perfect gifts for the bridal party, and can even match dress color.
Box sets make it especially easy for gift givers to delight gift recipients, says Wendy Fox, Senior Director of Sales-Independent Division, The Richline Group, New York City, for Honora. The pearl brand is introducing freshwater pearl stud earrings and pendant necklace sets in silver. And, Grenier cites greater demand for pearls for girls (think flower girl), noting Imperial’s Pearl-by-Pearl (adding pearls to make a necklace) is launching two to three suites of pearl jewelry in the collection. She adds that this item also makes great gifts for new moms to build for their daughters.
Cali advocates jewelers include pearls in their bridal displays and merchandise in such a way that customers can visualize all the different ways pearls can be incorporated into the celebration. “It’s a great way to secure add-on sales for the bridal party, mother-of-the-bride, rehearsal dinner, wedding day,” she says, noting that it’s important to think beyond the bride and the wedding/engagement ring to see the big picture.
Variety’s Spice of Life
Customers expect jewelers to carry a selection of pearl items, core and fashionable styles within their collections, says Cora-Lee Colaizzi, director of marketing and catalogs and senior merchandiser for Quality Gold, Fairfield, Ohio. She encourages jewelers to merchandise their cases with cost competitive merchandise that is perfect for accessorizing bridal parties, black tie events and to wear for business and casual.
“We try to infuse a little bit of something for everyone into our collections,” describes Fox. “We always like to include a modern twist to a classic, trend areas in both silver and gold, and revisit our design archive to bring back some vintage-inspired looks. This season we were inspired to bring back a take on a Honora classic from the 1990s called “Palline”. “Historically, this was a higher end collection of 18K gold and gemstone, but we’ve taken some of the silhouettes, the iconic beading and reinvented the look in two-tone silver and gold.”
Grenier underscores that pearls remain the ideal gift for so many occasions, celebrating friendships, milestones and successes—from important anniversaries and birthdays (also June’s birthstone) to a graduation, new job or promotion. Even Vogue just told its readers to “Forget Diamonds” explaining “Why Pearls Are the Perfect Gift for Valentine’s Day!”