Watches + Jewellery

Queen of the jewels

From conservative status symbol to infinitely cool – today’s pearls hold their value in both jewellery boxes and the jewellery world. These age-old beauties are the ultimate in resilience

Natalie Hartley | 19.10.2019

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PHOTOGRAPHER I JOSEPH MOLINES

STYLING I NATALIE HARTLEY

hair pin, Maria Black £246

Until fairly recently, pearls had developed a reputation for being conservative. Now, thanks to modern iterations, the tide (no pun intended) is changing. Modern pearls are all about natural shape – they’re raw and asymmetric, individual and redefined. And jewellery designer Anissa Kermiche is leading the way.

“I’ve been fascinated with pearls from a very young age, because of my mother – she always experimented with them to accessorise both classic and casual outfits," explains Kermiche. "My mother would wear a classic set of pearl stud earrings and necklace, then pair with pieces of gold jewellery. This combination still influences me today and inspired me to create a fine collection dedicated to the classic pearl, Rondeur. I think, first of all, about a unique way that we can work or set the pearl and then the other materials follow. The pearl is always the centrepiece. In my opinion, pearls go with everything and every woman can wear pearls, no matter what her age.”


Woman pearl earrings

T-SHIRT jil sander £180, earring apple and figs £280

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Woman pearl braids
Women pearl bracelet
Women Jil Sander T-shirt
Pearl Sandals Simeon Rocha
Women Jil Sander T-shirt
Women pearl earrings braids

T-SHIRT jil sander £180, bracelet, Maria Black £219

Buro Bites

  • Pearls are the only jewels on Earth that are created naturally by a living organism, but only one in every 10,000 wild oysters will contain a natural pearl. Nothing worth having comes easy, right?
  • "A woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls," declared Coco Chanel. Inspired by Mademoiselle's love for the gem, Chanel launched a high jewellery collection devoted to the classic pearl in 2014 – ensuring their legacy and place in the fashion world stayed well and truly rooted.
  • Le Peregrina is a pear-shaped pearl the size of a small egg with a history spanning 550 years. Famously gifted to Elizabeth Taylor by Richard Burton on Valentine’s Day, the legendary actress later commissioned Cartier to re-design the necklace, resetting it with rubies, diamonds, and additional pearls. In 2011, the necklace was sold for $11 million at a Christie’s auction in New York.
  • The world’s most expensive pearl was discovered by a fisherman off the coast of the Philippines inside a giant clam. Kept under a bed as a good luck charm for ten years, officials unearthed it in 2016 when the house it was in burnt down. Valued at $100 million the pearl measures 26 inches long, weighs nearly 75 pounds and is the largest known pearl in existence.
  • Wild or cultured, you can always spot a gem-quality pearl by its iridescent finish – like the interior of the shell (mother of pearl) that produced them. Imitation pearls are used regularly in jewellery, but look at the finish and it’s not hard to distinguish from the real deal.

Pearls are graded
according to:

SIZE

SHAPE

Colour

Lustre

Surface quality

Nacre
quality

iridescence

Woman pearl braid Jil Sander

T-SHIRT jil sander £180, earring white bird €1400

With regard to size, the bigger the better. The more perfectly round the pearl is, the higher the value. ‘Baroque’ is the term used to describe pearls that are distorted in shape. They’re largely worthless, but often seen as more interesting from a design perspective.

You might argue that diving for pearls could be seen as a shortcut to investing in pearls as your eliminating the middleman. Then again, it’s probably easier and safer all round to head to the below…

BRANDS TO BUY FROM

SHOP THIS

HAIR I MAKI TANAKA

MAKEUP I NATSUMI NARITA

LIGHTING ASSISTANT I BEN COOPER

DIGI OPERATOR I MEHRAN PAKGOHAR

PRODUCER I SIMONE SCHOFER

PRODUCTION COORDINATOR I NOOT COATES

MODELS I AMAL TOBI @ M+P

Words I Naomi Barling 

ADDITIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY I GETTY IMAGES

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