The Comeback of Pearls | Men's Designer Jewellery | Tateossian

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The Comeback of Pearls

The Comeback of Pearls

10 minute read

Are they a gem? Are they a stone? Or are they something else entirely? Revered in history longer than diamonds, pearls are the only precious gem that comes from a living creature. They have transcended kingdoms and empires. Their association with nobility and luxury has ensured their place at the top of the jewellery hierarchy.

Thanks to the modernisation of this classic choice, pearls are once again the hot accessory. They have been adorning runways and are becoming the first choice for famous men. Take a deep dive into this classic-turned-contemporary material to find out why pearls should be your new favourite accessory. 

How pearls form

Pearls, much like any other naturally occurring phenomenon, don’t have a true “founded” date. At least not a recorded one. Historians speculate early humans discovered pearls while hunting for food along the shoreline. But what is certain is the impact these milky spheres have had on humanity.

The way pearls form is not nearly as glamorous as its outcome. When an irritant becomes lodged in an oyster’s soft inner body, it secretes a substance called nacre as a defence mechanism. This substance builds up around the irritant until it becomes a smooth pearl. Natural pearls begin organically, whereas cultured pearls start with human intervention. An irritant will be inserted into an oyster to begin the process. Both produce the same end result.  

Different types of pearls

Pearls are the only gemstone that don’t require polishing or cutting. Some may even consider them more precious than diamonds because they are becoming a scarce commodity. Their formation is dependent on clean seas and stable temperatures. With increased ocean pollution and global warming, natural pearls are becoming increasingly rarer. This doesn’t bode well for a luxury that is already rare to begin with. 

Pearls are usually thought of as perfect milky white spheres, but the variations of shape and colour make this a versatile jewellery choice. Found in both saltwater and freshwater, many aspects — from the mollusc itself to the geographic region and the thickness of the nacre — can influence the colour. White and grey pearls with pink, silver and/or green overtones are the most common. Even black pearls are fairly abundant. Highly sought-after colours include pink, gold (called the Golden South Sea pearls) and Blue Akoya pearls, which are a misty iridescent blue. But pearls still reach further into the colour spectrum with shades of lavender, chocolate, peach and multi-coloured. 

As many colours as they come in, pearls are also found in a range of shapes. They are not always uniform in size and shape, which makes pearl jewellery-making somewhat of an art. Besides the traditional round shape, pearls also come in a tear-drop formation (called a drop), button-shaped, semi-round, baroque and circle baroque. Baroque pearls are irregular in shape and asymmetrical. What baroque pearls lack in uniformity, they are revered for in uniqueness. 

History of pearl jewellery

Pearls have long had associations with nobility and opulence. In 1901, there was a discovery of a sarcophagus of a Persian princess dated back to 420BC. Inside, researchers found a necklace of pearls. The Susa pearls, as they became known, were the first-found instance of pearls used as jewellery. There is a legend that Cleopatra, to win a wager, crushed a pearl into a glass of wine for Marc Anthony. This was to prove she could host the most expensive dinner. In 1BC, Julius Caesar went as far as restricting the wearing of pearls only for nobility. Since then, pearl jewellery has had a turbulent ride to the modern age. 

This notion of sophistication has followed pearls throughout their course in history. The ancient Greeks believed that pearls were the teardrops of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. During the Dark Ages, knights wore pearls into battle because they believed that they offered protective powers. Many cultures have legends involving the delicate jewels, which increased their popularity through the ages. 

The demand for pearls grew absorbent, especially as explorers found more pearl-rich reefs. Nobility didn’t want a simple pearl piece, they wanted an elaborate expression of art. Brooches, necklaces, earrings, and any other accessory with the ocean gem were sought after. Called the Pearl Age, supply couldn’t keep up with the demand. By the 19th century, the oyster supply dwindled due to this craze leading to a decline in favour. Pearls would remain popular in ladies' fashion, but it wasn’t until the Flapper age that they would re-emerge as the “It” accessory. 

The 1920s saw pearls adorn the neck of anyone who is anyone — and everyone was wearing them. Coco Chanel shocked the fashion industry by pairing pearls, a luxurious gem, with casual daywear. Ropes of pearl necklaces would then define this era. It was unfussy but glamorous and it suited the new independence that many women were experiencing during this time. Pearls weren’t a fashion accessory, they were a liberator. Pearls would then ebb and flow with the fashion trends until the 1980s when they received their first fall in popularity.

Pearls retained their exclusivity, perhaps too much. After the 1920s, they became associated with some of the most elegant women in history; namely Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy. But the 1980s bought an era of shoulder pads, bold colours and loud patterns. Pearls couldn’t find their footing. Coupled with their association with ultra-feminine women, they became known as an old lady’s accessory. 

Making a comeback

It wasn’t until a 2013 Fall/Winter runway that pearls received a new life. Fashion designer for French luxury house Lanvin, Alber Elbaz reimagined the pearl. Declaring “Not your mother’s pearls”, the designer flipped the narrative of the once ultra-feminine accessory. On the runway, there were pearls layered with grosgrain ribbon, stacked with other metals, paired with statement necklaces that had phrases such as ‘Hot’ and used in the buckles of belts. Elbaz executed this without losing the allure of the precious stone; they retained their elegance but in a modern and up-styled way. This runway firmly cemented pearls on the fashion hierarchy to move along the current of fashion trends once more. 

Pearls are back at the top of the fashion food chain. Thanks to modern muses such as the Bridgerton series, pearl jewellery is trending. Simone Rocha solidified this fact during the 2022 London Fashion Week. She presented pearls as feminine, elegant accessories with a tomboy edge. In every iteration, it was show-stopping: pearls shaped into organic tiaras, thick strands formed handles of handbags and the pearlescent finish on just about everything. 

Pearl jewellery for men

Pearls are timeless and adaptable, but now they are proving they are genderless as well. Celebrities such as Usher, Nick Jonas, Harry Styles and Jaden Smith have been embracing the pearl. Don’t feel limited when the gem has so much versatility to offer, pearl jewellery for men isn’t limited to thin necklaces. Shawn Mendes accessorised his suit with a baroque pearl strand tied to his vest. Although understated, many took notice.

Caring for pearls

If you want to dive into the world of pearl jewellery, Tateossian offers an ocean of styles that can be seamlessly incorporated into anyone’s collection. But before you purchase your first pearl, it’s important to note how to care for them. Pearls are softer and more vulnerable than diamonds and other jewels so it’s best to keep them separated. Store your pearl jewellery in a soft jewellery bag to save it from accidental scratches. Acidic liquids such as perfumes can erode the delicate exterior so ensure that you have applied all scents, hairsprays, and lotions before you put on your pearls. To ensure their longevity, wipe them down with a soft cloth after each use. This will prevent the build-up of oil and other substances that could damage the surface. 

Tateossian pearl jewellery 

Forget the woes of the past, Tateossian’s designer pearl jewellery is anything but outdated and uninspired. Each collection, down to each piece, has a modern gaze that propels the pearls into a contemporary position without losing the classic attraction. By combining different metals and settings, Tateossian’s pearl jewellery transcends into a new realm where pearls are an everyday luxury that anyone can embrace. 

Catena Isaac collection

The Catena Isaac collection proves that pearls can be as modern as they are classic. The pieces allow the wearer to add a touch of pearlescence to their outfit but in a contemporary, masculine way. The rugged chain and loop clasp tempers down the femininity of the pearls.

In this collection, choose between two variations: either the stainless steel bracelet with white pearls or the black IP stainless steel with black pearls. While white pearl jewellery is always luxurious and can fit into any collection with no effort, the black IP stainless steel adds an element of toughness that isn’t often associated with pearls. Both colour options are available as either a bracelet or necklace.

Shop the Catena Isaac bracelet and necklace with white pearls or the Catena Isaac bracelet and necklace with black pearls.

Poseidon Collection

The Greek god of the oceans, Poseidon was a trident-wielding tyrant, but the collection he lends his name to only retains his royalty, not his rage. Where the Centena Isaac collection juxtaposed the fragility of the pearl with the robust double chain, the Poseidon collection embraces the femininity of the stone but still adds an edge. Much like Simone Roche’s runway, this collection fits right on trend with its feminine tomboy approach.

Much like the previous collection, the Poseidon collection blends delicate pearls with the durability of a metal chain. But due to the chain’s thin appearance, this collection is less of a statement. Perfect as layering pieces, as is on-trend, the Poseidon necklace comes in two colour options: rhodium plated sterling silver with white pearls, and black rhodium plated sterling silver with black pearls. 

Shop the Poseidon necklace with white pearls and the Poseidon necklace with black pearls.

Pearl Hex Cube collection 

Last is the Hex Cube collection, so named for the geometric conundrum it presents. For these cufflinks, inside a cube with hexagonal negative space on each face is a spherical pearl. The pearl is able to move within the sphere — which blends movement with the static shape — but due to the geometrical construction, it is secured within. The freshwater pearl adds softness to the structured shapes and creates a different juxtaposition than what is seen from the other two collections. The designer pearl cufflinks are available in sterling silver or black rhodium plated sterling silver. Due to naturally occurring variations, the pearls in each set are completely unique. 

Shop the sterling silver Pearl Hex Cube cufflinks or the black rhodium plated sterling silver cufflinks.

  

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