Pearls and pearl jewelry remain a fixture on runways and in new jewelry collections. From Chloé’s pearl body chains to strands arounds the necks of countless male pop stars and baseball players, pearls continue to be reimagined every season, much to the delight of collectors.
Brands like Mastoloni and Imperial Pearl have always made the cultured pearl their focal point. For both firms, 100% of designs feature pearls—South Sea, Akoya, or Chinese freshwater.
“Mastoloni used cultured pearls in every one of our designs,” says Fran Mastoloni, a company principal. “The pearl takes center stage in all of our collections, and we design around the star.”
At the 2023 JCK Las Vegas Show, Mastoloni unveiled several new collections that celebrate their celebrity gem. Its Astratta Collection features organic silhouettes with white cultured pearls, two-tone metals, and diamonds. A new Cultured Couple collection puts cultured pearls and lab-grown diamonds in the same setting, and a small offering of men’s jewels sets pearls into masculine metal designs.
For sure, fresh designs fight tired pearl stereotypes—think grandmother’s jewelry box. Marketing and design director Perilynn Glasner, at Lali Jewels, is all too aware of the stigma from which pearls suffer.
That’s why Lali features Chinese freshwater pearls in every style and category imaginable, from updated tin cup necklaces to bridal fashion styles.
“People associate them with jewelry their parents or grandparents used to wear, which might be more conservative,” she says. “We design our pieces to be young, fun, and well-priced, so the modern customer will enjoy the look of the designs and be able to afford them.”
Imperial Pearl, meanwhile, caters to both lovers of classic pearls and contemporary ones. “We put classics at our core business,” says Kathy Grenier, vice president, business development. Imperial’s branded Signature Collection of high-luster Akoya pearls offers “turnkey solutions that take the guesswork out of ‘What should I buy’ and ‘How should I display it?’” she adds. The brand also specializes in farm-direct Chinese freshwater and Tahitian pearls, as well as on-trend designs with pearls and colored gemstones.
“While we interpret important trends (in pearl) we also lead with original and intentional designs of our own,” continues Grenier. “Our design philosophy is to show and share pearls’ modernity and integral role in what and how we wear jewelry today.”
Susie Wilty, director of sales at Prime Art & Jewel, thinks similarly about the freshwater pearls in her company’s Paris 1901 line. Pearls needn’t be reserved for certain occasions, demographics, or specific designs; pearls are versatile and timeless and can elevate any look.
“Our fashion-forward designs reimagine pearls, making them accessible while still capturing the essence of their timeless charm,” she says. “We believe that pearls are not just for traditional settings, but that they can shine as contemporary statement pieces, empowering everyone to express their unique style and personality.”