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Modern Pearls

A ladylike string will never go out of style, but edgier versions of your grandmother’s favorite accessory are starting to make their mark

Pearls are pretty mysterious. Nestled gently in an oyster shell and pulled from the ocean like a mermaid’s treasure, they seem almost mythical. And for the past two seasons, the eruption of pearls on the runway, on It-girls and in designer’s collections has been of mythic proportion. But unlike pearls of the past, these iterations are less grandma-chic and more downtown glamour with a heavy dose of cool.

From Dior’s iconic Mise en Dior double pearl earrings (it’s now trendiest to wear just one at a time) to Chanel’s pearl-heavy spring collection, the classic jewelry staple is having a moment as statement pieces that don’t have to be worn simply as studs or strands. Instead, designers like Delfina Delettrez, Sophie Bille Brahe and Saskia Diez are broadening the range of styles to include sling rings, ear cuffs and mixed material bracelets. The more unique and untraditional the setting, the more appealing the piece becomes. “I was never a fan of the classic pearl studs and no one in my family wore pearl necklaces,” Diez explains. “But I’m very fascinated by their mysterious luster and their origins. They seem to contain stories.”

Pearl jewelry by Delfina Delettrez and Saskia Diez

Pearl jewelry by Delfina Delettrez and Saskia Diez

Indeed, the familial quality of pearls, their ability to warm against the skin and the history and longevity that they hold is also appealing at a time when personal jewelry is having a moment. “I love pearls because of their perfection in shape and also their lightness, which allows you to work with multiple layers on one ear,” says Delettrez. “Women are attracted to them. They recall certain memories; they give a sort of confidence and will always be an object of desire. I love working with them. From afar, they are instantly recognizable and give you the illusion of classic and conservative style, but when you get closer, you understand the contemporaneity of the object.”

The way that we’re wearing them may have changed, but taking care of a classic will always require a little extra work. “Be careful with perfumes, acids and soaps,” says Diez. “Remove them when washing your hands, and store them in a dark place at night, away from sunlight and heat.” Pearls, like diamonds, demand a little attention and a lot of love. Happy to oblige.

A Maria Stern earring

A Maria Stern earring




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