Grandma's Pearls, now for Modern Girls

Grandma's Pearls, now for Modern Girls


Pearl jewellery has long been associated with timeless elegance and sophistication. These lustrous gemstones, formed by nature's alchemy within oysters and mussels, have captivated hearts for centuries. From classic pearl necklaces worn by royalty like Princess Diana, to modern pearl earrings adorning fashion-forward individuals like Hailey Bieber, pearls remain a symbol of grace and luxury.

In this blog post, we'll take a deep dive into the world of pearl jewellery, exploring its history, types, care, and why it continues to be a treasured choice in the world of fashion and accessories.

I. A Glimpse into the History of Pearl Jewellery

Pearl jewellery has a rich and storied history that spans cultures and eras. Here are some fascinating historical tidbits:

  1. Ancient Egypt: Pearls were cherished by the ancient Egyptians, who believed they were a symbol of purity and wealth. They were often buried with pearls to take their lustrous beauty into the afterlife.

  2. Roman Empire: Romans revered pearls as a mark of social status and power. Julius Caesar enacted laws to restrict their use only to the ruling classes.

  3. Renaissance Era: During the Renaissance, pearls enjoyed immense popularity among European nobility and were incorporated into extravagant royal jewellery.

  4. 20th Century: Coco Chanel, the renowned fashion designer, popularised pearls as a staple accessory for modern women, making them synonymous with elegance.

II. Types of Pearls in Jewellery

Not all pearls are created equal. They come in various types, each with its unique characteristics. Understanding these types can help you make an informed decision when shopping for pearl jewellery.

  1. Natural Pearls: These pearls are formed entirely by chance in the wild. They are exceedingly rare and, consequently, quite expensive.

  2. Cultured Pearls: The majority of pearls available today (and what we sell on Collective & Co.'s online jewellery store) are cultured pearls. They are cultivated by inserting a small bead or piece of mantle tissue into an oyster or mussel, stimulating the creation of a pearl. Cultured pearls come in several varieties, including:

    a. Akoya Pearls: Known for their round shape and high luster, Akoya pearls are popular for classic pearl strands and earrings.

    b. Tahitian Pearls: Cultivated primarily in the waters around Tahiti, these pearls are famous for their dark colours and large sizes.

    c. South Sea Pearls: Harvested from the warm waters of Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, South Sea pearls are renowned for their creamy lustre and size.

    d. Freshwater Pearls: These pearls are grown in freshwater mussels and come in various shapes and colours. They are an affordable option for pearl jewellery and are what we use in our pearl necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets.

  3. Imitation Pearls: Also known as faux or simulated pearls, these are man-made and typically constructed from glass, plastic, or shell. While they don't possess the same intrinsic value as genuine pearls, they can be a cost-effective alternative for those on a budget.

III. The Allure of Pearl Jewellery

Why do pearls continue to capture the hearts of jewellery enthusiasts worldwide? Here are some reasons behind their enduring allure:

  1. Elegance and Timelessness: Pearls exude an air of timeless elegance that transcends fashion trends. Whether worn as a single pearl pendant or a fun beaded pearl necklace, they always make a statement.

  2. Versatility: Pearls complement various styles, from casual to formal. A pearl earring can elevate a simple outfit, while a pearl bracelet can add a touch of refinement to an evening gown.

  3. Symbolism: Pearls symbolise purity, wisdom, and inner beauty. They make a meaningful gift for special occasions like weddings, anniversaries, or graduations. A ring like this 9kt gold Trinity Ring can represent three children or symbolise the bond between three close friends.

  4. Luminous Lustre: The soft, iridescent glow of pearls is unlike any other gemstone. Their lustre is a result of the layered structure of their nacre (the substance that forms pearls), which reflects and refracts light beautifully. Nowhere is the lustre more prevalent than in mother-of-pearl jewellery, which pairs beautifully with sterling silver and with 9kt gold. An ideal pairing can be seen in these sterling silver Star Sign pendants.

IV. Caring for Your Pearl Jewellery

To ensure your pearl jewellery retains its natural beauty, it's essential to care for it properly:

  1. Avoid Contact with Chemicals: Perfumes, hairsprays, and cosmetics can harm pearls. Put on your pearl jewellery after applying such products to prevent chemical damage.

  2. Wear with Caution: Pearls are relatively soft and can scratch easily. Avoid wearing them during activities where they may come into contact with rough surfaces.

  3. Clean Gently: Clean your pearls with a soft, damp cloth to remove oils and dirt. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or brushes.

  4. Store Separately: Store your pearl jewellery in a soft pouch or cloth bag to prevent them from coming into contact with harder gemstones that could scratch them.

  5. Restring Periodically: If you own a pearl necklace or bracelet, have them restrung every few years to prevent the thread from weakening and breaking.

You can read more about general jewellery care here.

V. Modern Trends in Pearl Jewellery

While pearls have a timeless appeal, contemporary fashion has brought fresh trends to the world of pearl jewellery. Here are some popular styles:

  1. Mismatched Pearls: Wearing mismatched pearl earrings is a quirky trend that adds a playful touch to classic pearls.

  2. Layered Pearls: Layering pearl necklaces of varying lengths and styles creates a dynamic and fashionable look.

  3. Pearl Barrettes and Hairpins: Pearls have made their way into hair accessories, with pearl-studded barrettes and hairpins being a stylish choice for updos and casual hairstyles.

  4. Mixed Materials: Combining pearls with other materials like leather, metal, or gemstones creates unique and eclectic designs. 


Pearl jewellery's enduring allure is a testament to its timeless beauty and rich history. Whether you prefer classic elegance or modern trends, pearls offer a versatile and sophisticated option for any occasion. By understanding the types of pearls, caring for your pieces, and staying updated on the latest trends, you can make the most of this cherished gemstone. Invest in a piece of pearl jewellery, and you'll have a stunning accessory that stands the test of time.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.