How To Wear A Pearl Necklace
Classic, beautiful, and sophisticated - pearls can often be overlooked as a precious gem in favour of something a little more, well, sparkly. But with a recent revival in pearl jewellery, we’re seeing these pieces emerge as a key trend on the runway, on the high street, and on the red carpet. They’re not just for the opera or theatre anymore; pearls can be for every day too, bringing a drop of elegance to your morning commute (or to add a touch of glam to those WFH video calls).
Below, we’ll take you through how to wear a pearl necklace, including picking the size and shape that works best for you, as well as layering techniques to keep things a little more casual.
- When should you wear pearls?
- Choosing the length
- Choosing the pearl size and shape
- Choosing the pearl colour
- How to wear pearls casually
- Keep it simple
- Dress them down
- Layer with other necklaces
- Choose Baroque pearls
- Add some colour
- Mix with other materials
- Lasting thoughts
When should you wear pearls?
The simple answer is: whenever you want! Modern jewellery makers have completely thrown out the rulebook when it comes to pearls - and we couldn’t be happier. No longer are pearls kept locked away and only brought out for special occasions, but more and more stylists are choosing to reinvent this classy and timeless gem, so we can enjoy them whenever we want.
Pearls deserve to be looked after, which explains why many people choose to keep them safely stowed away. Sunlight can damage pearls - but this certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear them every day; it simply means protecting them from harsh sunlight, as you would your skin.
With so many different styles to choose from, both classic and contemporary, pearl necklaces have an edge over other gems and precious stones. Think SJP in Sex and the City, wearing a long string pearl necklace with almost every outfit she owned. A statement piece and yet subtle all in one - that’s the beauty of pearls.
Choosing the length
Pearl necklaces are extremely versatile, particularly because there are so many variations in length, size and shape. Let’s take a look at the different lengths and how these might work with certain outfits and styles.
A staple of the 90s, the choker is another trend that has re-emerged in recent years. If we strip the pearl necklace back to its origins, the choker, or ‘collar’, was a popular style, whether that was just a single layer of pearls or multiple. The more layers, the fancier the necklace was deemed, making it a must for special occasions. It showcased wealth - but luckily, fine jewellery is no longer limited to how much money you have.
Modern pearl chokers don’t follow the same rules. They tend to incorporate metals and different-sized pearls, as well as irregular shapes. This creates a unique appearance and is often something that can be worn with any kind of outfit.
At around 22 - 24 inches in length, the Matinee length strikes a good balance between glamour and everyday wear. It’s also a great choice if you feel a little claustrophobic with something tighter around your neck, like the choker style. The Matinee length tends to hit just above the breast line, which means it’s ideal for bandeau style dresses and tops, but equally sits just as well on high-necks too.
For something a little more dramatic, the Opera length offers exactly that. With over 30 inches in length, this style hangs way past the chest. And although it’s ultra-glamorous, this style can still be dressed down, helping elevate a super casual look, or simply add another layer of sophistication.
If you’re hankering for even more inches, pearl necklaces do come in ‘rope’ length and, just as the name suggests, this hangs way past the chest line, sometimes even hanging past the belly button!
Body chains are a huge trend for 2022 and beyond - and can double up as these longer length necklaces. Our Palma body chain includes both 18K gold Vermeil and pearls, putting a modern twist on the opera length traditional pearl necklace!
Choosing the pearl size and shape
It’s not just the length you should consider when choosing the right pearl necklace. Organic, genuine pearls come in different sizes and shapes and this can dramatically alter the look of the overall necklace. Let’s take a look at what pearl sizes and shapes you can choose from.
Can’t decide on just one pearl size? We hear ya. Graduated pearl necklaces look super chic and mean you get the best of all worlds when it comes to pearl sizes. Graduated sizes tend to work better on choker and Matinee length pearl necklaces; any longer and this might end up weighing your neck down. Graduated lengths are often used with graduated sizes, so you might find a choker style with three layers of pearls, all in graduated sizes.
Single pearl necklace
Simple and straightforward, the single pearl necklace is exactly what you expect; a single-size, single-layer pearl necklace. This is ideal for longer lengths, as a smaller pearl will be used along the whole necklace. Single pearls work well in an oversized style too, with shorter lengths holding the weight better. Think Marge Simpson’s choker-style pearl necklace for inspo.
Organic, genuine pearls are always slightly different in size and shape - and never completely spherical. Pearls have a natural asymmetry, after being shaped and molded by the ocean. Baroque pearls celebrate this natural beauty, creating a more unique appearance. Many modern jewellery makers are looking to the Baroque style to create timeless yet on-trend pieces - including us at BRUNA!
Mother of pearl
If traditional or Baroque-style pearls aren’t your vibe, Nacre, or ‘mother of pearl’, might be the pearly option for you. Nacre is a natural material, which forms inside an oyster or mussel to protect the vessel from irritants. This is how pearls are formed, but once created, the layer of Nacre is left behind - more commonly known as ‘mother of pearl’. These pieces tend to be flat, iridescent pendants on a metal chain.
Choosing the pearl colour
When we think of pearls, we generally think of white - and rightly so, this is an extremely popular choice for traditional pearl necklaces. But did you know that pearls can come in a range of different colours? And the majority of these colours tend to occur naturally.
You might have noticed that your pearls have a yellow tint, or even sometimes a grey. But pearls can become pink, blue, green, purple, yellow, and black when they’re in the ocean. The colour is determined by the mollusc in which the pearl resides, as well as the type of water, and other external, natural factors. Of course, pearls can be artificially coloured, using fabric dyes, but this can look unnatural and the dye can wear off after a while.
When choosing the right pearl colour for you, think about how often and when you might wish to wear your necklace. As an everyday look, neutral colours can complement most outfit choices, without clashing too much. Your skin tone might influence your decision. Warmer pearl colours, such as yellow, work great with darker skin tones - and cooler pearl colours can complement a lighter skin tone. There’s no right or wrong colour to opt for, however - simply go for what matches your personality best.
How to wear pearls casually
We don’t always have a fancy event to attend - and if we’ve learnt anything by now, it’s that we don’t save gorgeous jewellery for a special occasion. We wear it whenever and wherever we like. But with pieces such as pearls, notorious for being your grandma’s favourite Christmas day accessory, how do you wear them casually?
Keep it simple
Pearls make a statement all on their own, but their simplicity means they can be layered with other necklaces. It also means you don’t have to think too much about accessorising. A pearl necklace, whatever style you opt for, can elevate any outfit.
Think about the type of dress or top you’re wearing too. Overly patterned, such as floral or plaid, can lose the impact of the necklace and generally clash. Although your pearl necklace should complement your outfit, it definitely shouldn’t get lost in it either. You’ve spent a while picking out this perfect piece; make sure your outfit does the work to showcase that.
Make that little black dress even more glamorous and sophisticated; elevate those classic jeans and t-shirt looks, or even wear them with your pyjamas to feel like a 1920s star. One necklace can change the whole outlook of your outfit - just by keeping it simple.
Dress them down
The shorter a pearl necklace, the easier it is to dress them down. Luxurious lengths aren’t always ideal for an everyday look, and can sometimes pose a bit of a hazard. Smaller, delicate, and Baroque pearl necklaces are ideal for dressing down the traditional pearl style.
Don’t overload the rest of your jewellery or accessories either. Pearls can say a lot on their own, especially if you’re wanting to dress them down. Opt for a small set of gold earrings and minimal bracelets. Try not to match your bracelet and necklace if keeping things low-key.
Layer with other necklaces
We briefly touched on layering necklaces earlier and it’s a great way to complement the gems, as well as create a truly unique look. Ensure your metals are similar tones and even match the pearl shade to warmer or lighter hues, such as gold and silver respectively.
Think about length too. If you have a pearl choker, you don’t want to layer with other necklaces that are tight around your neck, as this can look a little cluttered, as well as uncomfortable. Try layering no more than three different necklaces; one could be a smaller size pearl choker, the other a longer pearl necklace, and then a simple metal chain to break up the look.
Jewellery sets are an easy way to find necklaces that work well together. Often, stylists will put together their favourite pieces, having that professional eye for detail. If you’ve never layered pearl necklaces before, this can be a great place to start. Experimenting is the way forward and finding something that feels right to you is what will look best.
Choose Baroque pearls
Grandma’s Sunday best pearls can be a little old-fashioned for some, and a little over-the-top for others - and for an everyday look, they might not work for you. Baroque pearls are a great alternative, matching our chaotic, messy lifestyles - but doing it as fashionably as possible.
With Baroque pearls, you don’t lose the distinctiveness of the pearl; you gain a history. Feel the ocean on your skin and embrace the organicness of the shape. It’s unique at every nook and curve, just like you.
Add some colour
So you’ve got the length, the shape, and the size down to a T, but maybe you think something is missing? Pearls come in lots of different tones and shades - and colour might be an area you haven’t thought about. Make sure you opt for naturally coloured pearls, as opposed to artificially, as this isn’t as impactful, and won’t look as trendy a few years down the line. Subtle, natural colours can elevate your pearls above others, really making you stand out from the crowd.
Mix with other materials
Don’t be afraid to mix it up. Pearls are a timeless gem - but that’s because they keep changing with the times. You don’t simply have to opt for a string of pearls and clutch them fearfully - take some risks! You could opt for one large pearl hanging off a gold chain, adding a real element of luxury to any style.
Pearls are extremely versatile and work with numerous other materials, particularly gold. The contrast between the bold, bright yellow of the gold, and the glossy, etherealness of the pearl creates a real showstopper.
So, what have we learnt? That you can wear pearls on any occasion, whenever you want, and throw the rulebook out the window. It’s all about making a timeless piece work for you - and a pearl necklace can do just that, without sacrificing your own personal style and vision. Their versatility is something to be admired and enjoyed - so enjoy them every day!
Get inspired by our pieces and create your own unique look!