Major publications from WWD and InStyle to Forbes and NY Post have been writing about pearls’ comeback as the perfect, malleable medium for today’s ever-changing fashions. While pearl basics are at the core of the market, demand for fashion-forward, well-designed jewelry has taken this niche mainstream.
“The pearl category has done what most dream of doing in gaining acceptance in all areas of fashion from casual to couture,” describes Cora-Lee Colaizzi, director of marketing and catalogs and senior merchandiser Quality Gold, Fairfield, Ohio. “Fashion influencers and celebrities have popularized pearls as perfect with every outfit, as they post photos of themselves via 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—anything goes!”
Colaizzi credits big fashion houses like Dior and Chanel for contributing to the popularity of pearls worldwide by incorporating them in their apparel and accessories. “This visibility has inspired others to utilize more pearls in silver and 14K gold executions that appeal to and can be within reach of the masses. Over the last few years, more trendy fashion forward collections have featured styles with pearls or pearl accents that have influenced the products consumers want.”
In fact, innovative jewelry designers who are using a wide array of pearl types, colors, and shapes in a range of price points have helped to elevate pearls’ position as a style must-have, attributes Kathy Grenier, marketing director Imperial Pearl, Providence, Rhode Island. “Pearls never go out of style, but how we are styling with them, and the exciting variety of beautiful product available, has energized the category. There’s a lot of interest and excitement.”
Pearls’ popularity has been building the past few years, says Ray Mastoloni, Mastoloni Pearls, New York City. “Many of our customers had a good holiday because of pearls. We’ve had lots of reorders, and have many appointments scheduled for JCK Las Vegas. We’re very optimistic about the pearl business.”
Pearls & Gems
Pearls effortlessly go with any metal, stone or design elements paired with them and can easily be layered with other jewels, promotes designer Sara Blaine, a Benchmark brand partner, based in Atlanta, Georgia. “Pearls make the perfect accessory to layer with because they’re so easy to wear. I feel like there is always room for pearls.”
Blaine enjoys designing with Chinese freshwaters, Tahitian, mabé, and mother of pearl set in silver. Her latest collection, Serenity, comes in two color palettes complement the Pantone Colors of the Year, Serenity blue and Rose Quartz. She uses natural color silvery blue freshwaters with aquamarine beads and rose color freshwaters with rose quartz beads on chain in long lariat style that’s fluid and adaptable. It can be wrapped, layered, and tied—dressed up or down. She wears it as a belt. There are earrings that match the tasseled ends of the lariat.
Designs mixing pearls with gems—sliced, faceted and bead—are in demand, cites Wendy Fox, senior director of sales independent division for the New York Honora, a Richline brand. “We’re expanding our collections with new color schemes like black pearls with rutilated quartz and golden pearls with Botswana agate; South Sea pearls with blue topaz and amethyst or smoky quartz, madeira citrine and rhodolite garnet in 14K gold, and baroque South Sea pearls combined with organic links infused with diamond pavé in diamond-cut silver.
Imperial, too, is launching collections that mix flat baroque freshwater pearls with London Blue Topaz and South Sea pearls with Balinese-inspired rondells. Mastoloni adds that pearls with fancy color diamonds, especially black diamond beads with Tahitian or South Seas are popular in long dangle and tassel styles.
The earring category in pearls has adapted on-trend looks that are popular, says Colaizzi, like the front-back (aka two-part) style, with a smaller pearl connected to a larger one to create a two-piece stud. “We offer it in multiple colors featuring freshwater and shell pearls in silver and 14K gold to capture various tastes and prices. We also offer a two-part earring with a stud and dangle style combined.”
Colaizzi also cites lots of requests for pearl adorned headgear. “Hair accessories are strong again and pearls are showing up on them. These pearl accents reinforce their popularity and have introduced a younger generation to this fashion-forward gem.”
Fresh takes on classic styles provide lots of opportunities to reinvent timeless favorites with a contemporary edge like different earring and ring treatments, says Grenier, citing strong demand from retailers for more modern designs with finer pearls set in gold.
Mastoloni notes that “conservative fashion,” designs that are different but not too far out are bestsellers. In Vegas, the brand is launching styles in its Sorrento Collection, showcasing pearls in mixed geometric shapes like square and triangle in 18K gold with diamonds.
Baroque pearl strands also are trending, cites Colaizzi. “Our Baroque Endless Necklace, 64-inch length with 9mm-10mm white freshwater pearls, can be worn long or wrapped. It’s a modern, fresh take on a classic piece.