Not Your Grandmother’s Pearls

 

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We first found these earrings on Instagram and fell in love. They are just a little bit edgy and really stand out against our other pearl pieces.

We’ve been wearing a variation of these since college and these feel like just the right update without being too fussy or prim.

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Made from Pave diamonds, sterling silver, and, of course, a pearl. Available at Irini Designs

Necklace, $685

Earrings, $1268

Do you have any updated pearls you’re wearing lately?

The Best Pearl Rings

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 11.08.32 AMWe once fell in love with a pearl stacking ring on a trip to Japan. Not too expensive and just the right amount of luminescent pearls, we were sad to learn the designer had stopped making them because he hadn’t figured out a way to make sure the pearls stayed in place.

While we may never be able to wear that particular ring, we have been finding a number of rings made of gold and pearl that are equally nice. Because pearls are less expensive than many stone, this also makes the pricing a lot more approachable.

  1. White Equilibrium ring, 14k gold, pave diamonds and pearl, Jennie Kwon, $560
  2. Pearl  stacking ring, 14k gold and pearl, YLang23, $292
  3. Small Pearl Ring, 14k gold, pearl and diamond, Jennifer Fisher, $1,800
  4. Quarry ring, 14k gold and pink pearl, Bird, $480

UK to USA: The Best of Jewelry Abroad: Laura Lee

LLN23-CLOSEUP_1Our new feature where we share our favorite UK jewelry discoveries and the North American stores you can find them in.

Laura Lee is a UK designer who launched her line in 1985 and opened her boutique in 2004. Her tiny shop is dainty gold perfection and all of her pieces looks fantastic when layered.

It’s hard to find her pieces here in the States, but LLN23-DRAPE_1recently Anthropologie began carrying a few choice designs. Our favorite piece is this long (40″) necklace with a bright, freshwater pearl hanging at the end and smaller pearls sprinkled asymmetrically along the gold chain. There is no clasp and the piece can be wrapped twice to create a more layered look that lies closer to the collarbone.

Draped Pearl Necklace by Laura Lee, gold and pearl, at Anthrolopologie, $478

Three Pearl Earrings – Three Ways

A pearl stud is a classic piece of jewelry and a must have for most jewelry boxes. If you’re a fan of pearls and you would like to wear them in a slightly different way, we’ve seen a lot of contemporary three-pearl earrings on the market this spring.

1. Sugar Pearl Posts, glass pearl and metal; Anthropologie, $32: These Anthropologie earrings are not made with real pearls, but their shape has a great minimalist-organic vibe. We like the round casing and that they lay flat on our ears.

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2. Climber Stud, shell pearl and rose gold plated sterling silver, Kellin Silver, $44: Shell pearls (which are made by dipping beads into a shiny white material) are not real, but they share the same iridescent white as high quality pearls. Set in a curved row, these earrings are bigger than the other earrings on this list.

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3. 3Pearl Earring, pearl and sterling silver or 14k gold, Saskia Diez, from 219£: The most expensive pair on this list are also our favorite (sigh!). They are about as large as the Kellin Silver earrings, but lay in the crevice of our ear and keep the backing completely invisible.

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Solo Pearl Jewelry

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As much as we love a full strand of pearls, we’ve been wearing the pearl bracelet above non-stop since we purchased it (Vale, $165). I love how it adds such a flint of white, and the longish chain means it hangs delicately on my hand – perfectly in view when I’m typing away.

Here are our picks for jewelry that highlights one single pearl:

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Freshwater and gold pearl drop earrings, N+A, $345

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(our pick) Freshwater pearl and recycled 14k gold ring, Melissa Joy Manning, $175

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Pearl and brass bangle, Steven Alan, $175

Tips for Buying Pearl Jewelry

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A pearl necklace or pearl studs are classic pieces of jewelry you won’t regret owning. We recently purchased a pearl necklace as a gift and were overwhelmed with how many options there are on the market. If you want to avoid a big brand name, here are our tips for making the most of your investment.

1. Natural vs. Cultured

Natural pearls are very rarely used in new jewelry. Difficult to procure and in many places illegal, natural pearls are most easily found today by buying vintage jewelry. Cultured pearls make up the vast majority of pearl jewelry today. Typically, natural pearls are sold as stand alone items.

2. Luster

Similar to diamonds and other stones, there is a rating system for pearls, based on a factor called luster. Unfortunately, the industry has not adopted a universal system, but there are two main grading systems:

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In this grading system, A is the lowest end and indicates a pearl that is flat and chalky.

A-D

On this scale, A represents the highest quality pearl, with lower quality items moving down the scale like a school grade.

If you don’t know which system the jeweler is using, you can determine a pearl’s luster by looking closely at what is reflected in the pearl itself. The more sharply the reflection is defined, the higher quality the pearl is. The best way to describe luster we’ve found is to look at the pearl to see if it appears to be “glowing from within.”  If you’re buying your necklace in a shop, avoid pearls that looks chalky or flat.

3. Shape

Round pearls are very hard to achieve because they are manufactured by nature. The rounder the pearl is, the higher the quality and the price increases as well.

4. National Standards

Somewhat like champaign, areas that harvest cultured pearls have created different standards. Here are the three most highly sought after regions and styles:

Akoya Pearls: Usually from Japan or China, these pearls are usually round in shape and naturally white.

South Sea Pearls: Usually from Australia, they are prized for their very large size. Golden South Sea Pearls are usually harvested in Indonesia.

Tahitian Pearls: The largest variety of color are found in these pearls which are sometimes just called black pearls

5. Freshwater vs Seawater

Seawater Pearls: Akoya, South Sea, and Tahitian pearls are all seawater pearls. They are produced from oysters and each oyster can only produce an average of three pearls in their lifetime. Seawater pearls are cultured by placing a small round bead in an oyster, which helps the pearl grow roundly – and contributes to seawater pearl’s higher price point.

Freshwater Pearls: Produced from mussels and are less likely to be perfectly round. Mussels can produce up to fifty pearls, but because they are cultured by using a small piece of tissue as the irritant, they are usually more oblong in shape.

Oversized Pearl Bracelet by Morgan Jean

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We don’t normally consider Morgan Jean Jewelry our style (we like them, but they’ve always been a bit clunkier than we usually wear), but something about these freshwater pearl bracelets really caught our eye. A 14k filled gold chain bracelet connects to a large freshwater pearl that is inset with a small cut of topaz. The gold is bright and looks very modern next to the swirly white of the pearl.

The bracelet does up with a clasp and is 7″ around. As always with chain, you may find the piece will stretch out a bit. Depending on the size of your wrist, the pearl may hang down a bit on your hand. A look we like, but might not be practical for everyday type of wear.

We recommend this piece if you’re looking to update your collection of fine gold pieces. It’s also priced very reasonably at $113 on her site.

Click here to visit her product page.