The popular perception of pearls has been shifting for a while. This might have something to do with how diverse pearl jewellery itself has become. Thanks to the innovative designs of brands like Anissa Kermiche, pearls are decidedly cool now. It’s not yet quite the same with classic pearls, however. But in the last year they’ve received a public endorsement that might change this: Kamala Harris, Vice President-elect of the United States.
The penchant Kamala Harris has for pearls is something to behold – especially as they’ve been part of her sartorial arsenal for decades. Her 1986 graduation photo from Howard University features both pearl drop earrings and a single strand of pearls. Indeed, her sorority at the time was Alpha Kappa Alpha which – as well as being the first Black Greek-letter sorority – has pearls as its symbol. Since then, pearls have accompanied the Vice President-elect throughout her career.
When she was sworn into congress, she wore pearls – Tahitian ones to be exact. When she became the District Attorney for San Francisco, there they were again in their most classic of iterations: the single strand. When she questioned Brett Kavanaugh at a Senate hearing in 2018, it was a double strand.
Kamala Harris’ relationship with pearls isn’t an explicit statement of defiance in the way that AOC’s is with hoop earrings – but of wisdom. Pearls represent understated glamour – that you know your own worth and always have done. As someone who is not only the first woman ever to become Vice President of the United States, but also the first Black American and the first Indian American (and ultimately the highest-ranking female elected official in its history), Kamala Harris’ life has been full of firsts – but pearls connect her to past traditions and propel her into the future. We’d like to think that pearls are clutched with hope instead of horror from now on.
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