Whether in the ancient world, when the wearing of pearls was restricted to the aristocracy in Rome, and pearls were so valued in Egypt that they were buried with their owners; or in medieval France, when only the nobility was allowed to wear them (not to mention Elizabethan England when they were exclusively worn by royalty); pearls have always been the exotic baubles of the privileged. 

And while, in more recent times, they have been associated with the likes of Barbaras Billingsly and Bush, as often as, say Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Dame Elizabeth Taylor; more and more designers of precious jewelry are finding extraordinary uses for exceptional pearls.

From the faceted peacock Tahitians used in Shamballa Jewels’ macramé bracelet, and the intensely-hued South Sea pearl that Jewelmer Joillerie has mounted in a diamond-speckled gold ring that conjures thoughts of an intergalactic disco; to Victor Velyan’s ring with a golden South Sea pearl that’s removable and can be worn as a pendant, and the baroque Kasumiga pearls used in Lydia Courteille’s “Snakes” earrings – designers are featuring pearls prominently, and in new-and-exciting ways.

And Conch pearls!  K. Brunini Jewels features them in her “Objects Organique” earrings, alongside vibrant opals and cascading Seed pearls.  Mikimoto mounts one like a dollop of ice cream atop a cone of pink and white diamonds.  And Arunashi’s “Sea Urchin” brooch – with its bright Conch pearl centered among a forest of Stick pearls, and more than a thousand diamonds – is unlike anything I’ve ever seen outside of a tropical aquarium (and my most glittering jewelry-fantasies).

Martin Katz, too, was inspired by the sea and studded the Starfish pin from his “Bijoux de Mer” collection with cultured pearls and a large Tahitian (not to mention a whole lot of diamonds and pink sapphires).  Todd Reed, known for his work with rough diamonds, took the Tahitian pearls he’d been collecting and created a technique where they appear to be emerging from rough diamond-studded gold shells reminiscent of the boulders after which his hometown derives its name.

The abstract cocktail ring from Scott Kay's “Unity” collection, pairs whimsy and sophistication, in the SK way.  Meanwhile, who besides Sevan Biçakçi would even think to chop off the top third of a gorgeous golden Tahitian pearl?  Apparently, the same visionary artist who'd top said pearl with a carved intaglio and then “wrap” the whole ring with a climbing vine!

“Eleganza” is the word that comes screaming to my lips whence describing the triple-strand “Aspasia” necklace by the charming Italian duo behind Faraone Mennella by R.F.M.A.S., with its enormous green beryl and multi-colored Tahitians running the spectrum between beige and green.  Finally, there’s the brilliant Joel A. Rosenthal, who – under the moniker JAR (his monogram, duh…) – has created a pair of ear-frames, that juxtaposes a large golden brown Tahitian pearl embedded in pave diamonds, on the one; with a huge cushion-cut yellow diamond set in white seed pearls, on the other.

Credit is due to each of the incredible artists and designers, that I’ve mentioned, above, for their willingness (and in some cases, I daresay near-compulsive need) to deviate from the classic strand of uniform white pearls; incorporating instead, pearls of exotic shapes, hues, origins, and even finishes, into their fine jewelry creations.

Come back, for Part 2; whence you can read the detailed descriptions, for each of the fabulous jewels shown and discussed, herein.


Get into it!

We know that back in 1974, Elvis Presley wanted to record Dolly Parton’s ballad “I Will Always Love You,” and that she declined. But what if she hadn't, and he had, as a duet with her? Thanks to A.I. we know how it might’ve sounded!