Jewelry Trends

How To Style Pearls This Summer

Pearls are often associated with heavy fabrics and formal events, but fine-jewelry designers have been exploring pearls in a new light of late – crafting an array of summer-centric styles that are perfectly suited to sun-soaked getaways, says CHARLIE BOYD

From chunky chokers to standout earrings, pearls just got a bold new-season refresh

As our wardrobe choices gradually shift into summer-dressing mode, there is an instinctive tendency to reach for bold, bright pieces of jewelry that remind us of vacations – beads, cords, bangles and vibrant, technicolor gems are often our go-to accessories. While there’s no question that these pieces exude joy and pair well with the lively hues that we associate with bright co-ords and color-block swimsuits, there is another gemstone that feels like a thoroughly fresh choice this season – the pearl.

Blame it on Bridgerton. Season three sees the return of Francesca Bridgerton, who shows us how delicate pearls can offset opulent gowns, giving the most enigmatic member of the series’ nakesake family a decidedly chicer look. However, that’s not to suggest that pearls are an exclusively prim and proper gemstone. In contrast to Netflix’s regency rom-com, where women are corseted and cinched into heavy gowns, modern jewelry designers are crafting cooler pearl pieces that pair equally well with vibrant summer dresses and off-duty denim for sunset strolls along the shore.

In fact, it is somewhat impossible to think of a gemstone more closely linked to beach life than pearls, which are born from the sea. Comfortable and soft upon the skin, almost weightless and lustrous, pearls light up the complexion, and their neutral hues make them a versatile companion to an entire suitcase worth of clothes. The way to wear pearls this season is light, bright and breezy.

Opt for delicate earring designs

While some traditional pieces can be incorporated into an eclectic ear stack for summer, there’s a wide array of delicate, articulated designs that will help bring a sense of modernity. Jennifer Meyer’s pearl double-daisy design has a charming boho vibe, while Sophie Bille Brahe plays with proportion to create single earrings that eschew perfect symmetry in favor of unique arrangements. Pacharee’s playful heart-shaped pair, meanwhile, is hammered and adorned with a smattering of tiny pearls that catch the light. Those with just the one piercing should look to striking arrangements of gems on a single stud – Mateo’s clever composition of pearls and diamonds feels especially fresh.

Reinvent your bead bracelet stack

The bead bracelet is to summer what the wool coat is to winter. Beads don’t, however, have to mean bright and bold hues – for many minimalists, they simply don’t work with their travel wardrobe of taupe, cream and off-white linen. This is where pearls come in. Equally comfortable on the wrist, they can be stacked three at a time if you’re looking for that full wrist-stack feel. Pieces that play with size and scale feel especially modern, such as Mizuki and Martha Calvo’s designs, while Jia Jia introduces a little color for those feeling brave with her pearl and pink topaz ‘Union’ style. Synonymous with the world’s finest pearls, Mikimoto’s white akoya pearl bracelet featuring a single black South Sea pearl may well be the perfect piece for those who always wear a monochrome color palette, come rain or come shine.

Choose organic silhouettes

Traditional pearl jewelry is virtually always symmetrical, so it’s inevitable that those featuring more imaginative and creative silhouettes will feel more contemporary and relaxed. Organic, free-flowing forms inevitably make us feel closer to the natural world too, and as every pearl is different, they lend themselves well to eclectic designs. Jennifer Behr’s golden clam shell and pearl earrings feel as if they’ve been fished from a mermaid’s trove, while Completedworks’ recycled silver necklace adorns the décolletage with pearl drops like sea spray. Those looking for a totally unique piece should consider baroque pearls, such as Mateo’s delicate pink pair – every stone is utterly unique.

Mix pearls with diamonds

If you’re seeking pearl pieces for dressier after-dark events, then designs featuring a mix of diamonds and pearls will amplify the opulence factor tenfold. David Morris’s ‘Fortuna’ mother-of-pearl ring is a striking investment piece, while Mikimoto’s diamond and pearl drop earrings are a timeless design with heirloom potential. Those who prefer petite pieces that lend themselves to layering should consider delicate pendants such as Sydney Evan’s evil eye design, or Maria Tash’s pearl-set huggie hoop. Pearls are such elegant gemstones that it’s hard to go overboard, so don’t be afraid to dust, drape, and layer with abandon – they’re the perfect partner for bare skin.


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