Pearls are one of the iconic 80’s and 90’s trends making a comeback, and here at AC Silver we are so excited to see this resurgence. Lets celebrate the pearls shiny comeback by exploring some areas of pearl necklace fashion with you all.

Roots of the pearl extend as far back as humanity itself, after their discovery pearls were often gifted to Chinese Royalty, this dates back to 2300 BC. The pearls were cherished by ancient Roman women to an excessive degree and Julius Caesar had to invent a new law governing the number of pearls a woman could wear as he wanted to preserve their regality.  Pearls have even been associated with the Roman Goddess Venus, who is believed to have been born from the sea and is famously depicted arising from the shell of an oyster.

Pearl Necklace Fashion

However, one of the earliest examples of pearls being worn as jewellery dates back as far as 420 BC. A sarcophagus of a Persian Princess was discovered wearing a pearl necklace. Since then, pearls have had such a strong impact on fashion and jewellery throughout history, cementing themselves as one of the most iconic gemstones of all time. They have been worn decade after decade and are still worn today. So, what makes them so versatile? We’ll be looking at who, when and how to wear your pearl necklaces

How they progressed over time

As we know, pearl necklaces have been worn since 420 BC and are still popular today. During the 15th and 16th century, pearls were still making an appearance with wealthy monarchs.  They were worn to depict their status. Many portraits of monarchs during this time can see seen accessorised in strands of pearls. Including pearl necklaces. They then arose to fashion between 1900’s and today. Pearl necklaces famously become popular during the 1920’s, flappers began to wear them to fit in with the Art Deco aesthetic. Audrey Hepburn was is famously depicted stepping out of a taxi on Fifth Avenue with a pastry in hand, wearing a pearl necklace in the 60’s. Princess Dianna, supported a pearl look, she often wore long ropes of pearls, layered around her neck with the ends tied in knots. Pearl jewellery has been associated with the monarchy and wealth; the Queen today is still spotted wearing her pearl necklaces.

How to wear a pearl necklace

You don’t always need to be dressed like the Queen to wear pearls. There are many types of pearl necklaces available, depending on necklace length, size, colour and shape. Pearls come in a wide range of colours including, white, grey, pink, lavender, black and everything in between. The common pearl shapes are, round pearls, considered the most desirable by experts, they are perfectly symmetrical. Semi – round pearls are slightly less sought after as, to the naked eye look symmetrical but they actually have microscopic irregularities compared to round pearls. Drop pearls are named for their resemblance to a tear drop. Baroque pearls are cherished for their uniqueness, as they are irregular in shape and no two are the same. And finally, there are Circle Baroque, they display rings around the pearl which makes them easily distinguishable and extremely unique.

pearl and diamond necklace wearing

For styling your pearls, it is important to take in to consideration which colours and hues suit your eye colour and skin tone to really flaunt the pearls and their lustre. Length of the pearl necklace is also an important factor, as the way you wear and style your pearls can also alter how casual or how formal they look.

A common necklace style is the pearl choker, this measures 14 – 16 inches. This sits against the base of the neck and there is no drop to the necklace. This design is face framing and also gives the illusion of a longer neck. Pearl choker necklaces have a more formal look to them, they are shorter in length which compliments a crew neck blouse, a buttoned shirt and blazer. A chunky pearl choker can also be used to highlight a simple evening gown.

Next, the Princess length measures 17 – 18 inches, which is the most common necklace length. This sits below the choker and rests on the collarbone or just below. Its versatile length makes it suitable for a wide range of women’s attire, from t-shirts to ball gowns.

The Matinee length measures 20 – 24 inches and sits between the collarbone and bust. It is a popular length to choose when layering different necklaces alongside your pearls. Pendants can be added to this length.  Plunging wedding dresses and formal gowns are the perfect dresses to match the matinee length.

Wearing pearl necklaces fashion

The Opera length measures 28 – 36 inches and depending on body size and height it rests on the lower half of the bust or slightly under. It is long enough to wrap around the neck twice, creating that iconic layering look. A two-strand necklace creates a casual look and works great with jeans, trainers, midi dresses, leather jackets and cardigans.

Rope length measures 26 -51 inches and is the longest of the pearl necklaces. They can be worn in many different ways, including layering, wrapped around multiple of times, knotted at the bottom, or extra-long, where it will reach the waist.  Rope lengths are best worn with a high neckline.

Who can wear a pearl necklace?

Throughout history you may only expect to see Royalty or the wealthy adorning a pearl necklace, especially woman. However, thanks to the industrial revolution which made the mass production of synthetic materials possible for the first time, women were able to access pearls at a lower cost. Allowing pearl jewellery to remain a timeless accessory which has been worn decade to decade, with no sign of stopping. The trend seems to be forever evolving; in recent years, it is not just women who have supported the pearl necklace trend.  Pearl necklaces were first spotted on a male in a 2016 Channel cat walk, and the trend has cemented its self within male accessories. They have been worn by a number of celebrities, and sold by a number of retail stores. It appears their popularity has arisen due to the androgynous menswear trend that has been seen over the past few years.

fashion layering pearl necklaces

Tips to looking after your pearl necklaces  

Pearls are a delicate and require special care, storage and cleaning to order to keep your pearls looking lustrous. Some tips to keep in mind are:

  • Avoid household chemicals
  • Don’t’ cook in pearls
  • Watch out for cosmetics and lotions
  • Don’t’ bathe or swim with pearls
  • Avoid abrasive clothing
  • Wipe after every wear
  • Don’t hang pearl necklaces
  • Never use abrasive brushes or cloths

Written by

Emily Senior

After studying Fashion Communication BA (hons) at Northumbria university Emily joined the AC Silver team in 2022. Emily will be educating our readers on all things luxury and fashion.