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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Pearl Jewelry Sheds Its Old Image

Qayten Twist necklace made with baby Akoya pearls

There has been talk recently about the return of pearls as a fashionable and trendy choice for fine jewelry. My question is why now? Designers have been creating vibrant and fresh jewels with pearls for at least the past three years and little has been written about it.

But now that some writers have seen the light will retailers and consumers follow? Currently, I don’t see it.

Baroque pearl bracelet with 18k yellow gold and a touch of diamonds by Mizuki

Natural pearls are among the most sought after items on the auction market today, generating high demand and prices due to their rarity. But it accounts for less than 1 percent of the pearl market. Maybe that is what’s driving this narrative in the broader market.

Pasquale Bruni Sissi Lunaire ring

Outside of the rare and natural, pearls suffer from being perhaps the most complex category of product in the jewelry industry. They are grown from live oysters, which makes them prone to the same dangers that threaten any agricultural product (such as disease, hostile weather and overproduction). The sales and distribution system is a tangle web of complexity and inefficiency. Pearls have many different origins, shapes and a range of quality variations that are difficult to judge with the naked eye. This makes it very confusing not only to consumers, but to many retailers.

Emerald ring with curved rows of micropearls by Suzanne Syz

Many consumers, particularly in the US, are stuck with the perception that pearl jewelry lacks a modern appeal, most closely associated with a string of white pearls for a mature woman. This is despite the explosion of cultured pearls in all kinds of colors, shapes and sizes and that the jewelry being created is as fashionable and contemporary as any being made today.

While I’m not convinced that this perception has changed, I am convinced that if people are able to see the designs their inhibitions would melt away. Designers are making everything from fine jewels to high jewels that are innovative and creative. They are using all the pearls available in all of their colors and shapes.

Celestial Spell Charm tassel necklace in 24k gold by Gurhan

Suzanne Syz introduced me to “micropearls,” the tiniest of pearls, and how they can be used for extremely complex high jewelry. For a ring, tiny curved rows of these pearls extend outward from an emerald. In another use, these pearls encase sapphire earrings in an elaborate egg-shaped cage that is both airy and delicate in appearance while being durable and flexible.

Italian jeweler, Qayten, specializes in Akoya pearls big and small and does extremely creative thigns with them, from large, multi-layered bib necklaces to delicate jewels mixed with gold and precious gems.

A pearl necklace by Paul Morelli. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

New York-based Mizuki pairs large baroque pearls with thin gold chains and touch of diamonds for delicate, refined bracelets and necklaces with a touch of boldness.

Italian designer, Pasquale Bruni, launched the Sissi Lunaire collection featuring white and champagne-colored pearls in crowns of pink gold and white and brown diamonds set in gold.

A high jewelry necklace using colorful pearls matched with diamonds and colored gems by Yoko London

Yoko London makes all kinds of pieces from high jewelry to fashion pieces using all types and colors of pearls, mixed with precious materials, such as high-karat gold, diamonds and colored gems.

There are many more exciting designs in the photographs.

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