Vermeer Eyes with Pearls, 2012, Lucy Mackenzie - Nancy Hoffman Gallery
top left, Yvonne Leon baroque pearls, necklace and earrings Sophie Brille Brahe
Top left Ana houri single earring, top right Sophie Brille Brahe earring worn with gold top, studded dot baroque pearl Nadia Shelbava
top left dancing ring Mario Laz, right earring and necklace Charlotte Chesnais, bottom centre body chain Eliou, bottom far left earring Sophie Bille Brahe
All pieces Delfina Delettrez

6 Intriguing New Ways to Wear Pearls Right Now


Way before the Stepford wives and their single strand necklaces, pearls have long been associated with femininity – Botticelli’s Venus emerges sensuously from a the ocean foam, herself a veritable pearl of glowing complexion (and suggestively positioned tendrils of hair.)

Adorning yourself in oyster’s gifts won’t necessarily give you goddess status, however their natural luminescence and ethereal glow has been used for years, passed down in generations, to cast a flattering light onto a woman’s décolleté and face.

Whilst it is undoubtable that their magical aura casts a warm radiance on the wearer, and holds a timeless allure, they can also seem a little dated, especially when worn by mid-life women.

Thankfully, todays new generation of jewellery designers are putting a modern spin on pearls, toughening them up, combining them with unusual materials, and playing with proportion – they’re a simple way to update your looks!

Natural pearls are formed when a grain of sand or other irritant enters the shell, and the clam produces layers of nacre over it in self-defense – taking years to form a quality pearl. This seems like a strikingly appropriate metaphor for modern mid-life women – grit, hard work, evolution, beauty and radiance!

Worn with anything, including black, they cast a luminescence on the face, that counteracts the potential draining quality of black, and add a renewed glow to ageing skin.


I recently received a gift of these charming oyster shell candles from my mentor Jen Hall – and have decided that pearl will be my word of 2021, ready to radiate into the new year! Do you have your word yet – are you ready to shine?

1. Chunky Baroque pearls have been having a moment

ever since Phoebe Philo put them in her collection during her Celine days. Their nobly, organic shapes are a far cry from the smooth and perfectly formed rows of neat round globules associated with twinsets and pearls, especially when studded or worn looped around the ear.

These from Yvonne Léon have tiny studs and seashells on them, whilst Nadia Shelbaya’s studded version and Ana Khouri’s diamond and pearl version that twists around the ear, feel cool and contemporary.

2. The classic pearl necklace is updated

with combinations of different sized pearls positioned asymmetrically, for a casual feel that’s distinctly free of prissiness!

Try Eliou’s pearl body chain (presently on sale!) that looks as great with a bikini as with a fine gauge polo neck, and can also be fastened into a necklace for versatility, or Sophie Bille Brahe’s multi-sized pearl necklace with your knitwear for a modern take on a classic style.

3. Clusters of little round pearls are formed into earrings with a modern feminine feel.

I love these from Sophie Brille Bray, one of the pioneers in contemporary pearl jewellery.

4. Designer Charlotte Chesnais has recently started using pearls in her latest collection.

Winner of the prestigious ANDAM Accessories Prize, her modern minimalist design is the perfect contemporary update, and are ideal for adding a feminine touch to tailoring – in or out of the work place.

5. Delfina Delatrezz draws on punk heritage,

and borrows from the language of piercing in her edgy yet feminine pearl pieces, that add character to simple outfits.

6. I love Marlo Laz’s whimsical ring,

with its dancing pearl, and micro diamonds. The letters in relief around the ring read, Je Porte Bonheur – which seems like the perfect expression for these times!

Which is your favourite style?

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