Never Lackluster

The narrative continues for pearls as the hottest gem in jewelry, accessories and fashion design today. Pearls have been rocking runways and red carpets with chameleon-like ease, perfectly accenting everything from business and bathing suits to cocktail dresses and tees with jeans.

While pearls lack the flash of diamonds, they are never lackluster, radiating a warmth and life that cannot be found in other gems. Last October, Vogue cited the depth of pearls on the runways in recent seasons with no sign of waning, declaring in 2016 what it stated in 1943: “Pearls go on and on . . . on everything.”

For Spring 2017, fashion brands like Undercover and Moschino attached pearl strands to collars. Other designers, including Vera Wang and Libertine studded pearl drops and tassels on clothes. Pearls also popped on purses, shoes and hats, and adorned fashions with layers of strands, bold collars, pins, drop earrings, and open rings—as shown by Gucci, Coach, Jason Wu, and Marni.

Harper’s Bazaar in March touted pearls as “having a major moment in beauty”, as they also are popular in hair accessories, make up and skincare. Pearls encrusted in headbands and hair jewels, as facial and nail embellishment, and infused in serums and illuminating powders keep pearls in the conversation.

In fact, Forbes in June 2015 hails pearls replacing diamonds as a staple among fashionistas worldwide; and Bloomberg last September described pearls as “enormously versatile, far beyond their grandma and/or Jackie O stereotypes”.

Versatile & Fashionable
Versatility is a major theme in the latest collections of pearl brands like Imperial, with Kathy Grenier, vice president of business development for the Providence, Rhode Island based pearl house citing on trend long necklaces, lariat styles, and transformable jewelry like its Luster & Links and SmartPearls.

“Taking things apart and putting them back together or moving elements in a piece allows the wearer to customize her look, a great value-added benefit,” describes Grenier. Luster & Links features freshwater pearls in silver and Tahitian pearls in 14K gold tin cup style necklaces and bracelets that attach in different ways with a simple push on a connector link. While SmartPearls change up the look with natural pink color “Windsor” freshwater and Tahitian pearls as moveable stations on silver chain.

Pearl tassels remain a key design element, reports Grenier, who sees delicate freshwater seed pearls also trending in jewelry like wide band rings and inside-out hoop earrings. Imperial also created lots of long necklaces, over 150 one-of-a-kind styles, in unique blends of South Sea pearls.

Chokers, bold rings, and fashion pearls and gemstones are among the on-trend styles jewelers should have on hand, alongside classic pearl strands and studs, advises Cora Lee Colaizzi, director of marketing and catalogs and senior merchandiser Quality Gold, Fairfield, Ohio. “Several designs we’ve introduced highlight a single or few strategically placed pearls. We’ve expanded our Tahitian and Akoya selections, which are trending, with 14K gold pieces selling very well.”

Yellow gold and pearls are popular with a greater focus on fashion looks, cites Dana Cali, marketing and communications for Mastoloni, New York City. The pearl brand is launching a line of round and baroque freshwater pearls and chain in hammered yellow gold, opera length, that’s architectural.

Colorful & Casual
Among its top sellers, Mastoloni does well with front-back earrings, says Cali. “We’ve added more line extensions, with geometric styles popular.” She cites smaller, delicate pearl rings perfect for stacking and layering, and designs mixing white pearls with rough and pavé black diamonds capturing attention.

Fashion and fun is also the focus of the New York City based pearl brand Honora in its latest designs, releasing six collections, plus line extensions for over 100 new pieces. Among the offerings are freshwater and South Sea pearls and mother-of-pearl in organic and contemporary styles, set in gold and silver, with lots of movement in dangle and swirl designs, and different chain applications.

“You can expect to see us playing with looks from large fashion pearl and gemstone designs (i.e. Rock Solid and Gold Fix collections with agate and quartz) to delicate 14K gold layering pieces as in our new Diamond Drop line,” says Wendy Fox, senior director of sales independent division for Honora, a Richline brand. “We’re keeping things fresh and affordable in trend pieces and modern elevated classics.”

For designer Sara Blaine, a Benchmark brand partner in Atlanta, Georgia, there’s always room for pearls in her designs that speak to what women want—long and layered, organic and colorful, easy to wear and style. She uses freshwater, Tahitian and mabe pearls and mother-of-pearl, also mixing in gems from aquamarine and topaz to agate and quartz in silver with gold. “Pearls offer many opportunities to create something fun, affordable, of good value, and wearable!”