Are Pearls Too Old-Fashioned for 2024? Not if You Wear Them This Way.
Kanebridge News
Share Button

Are Pearls Too Old-Fashioned for 2024? Not if You Wear Them This Way.

The classic pearl necklace was a Barbara Bush staple. New designs, and freshwater varieties, are making the look anything but stuffy.

By FARAN KRENTCIL
Sun, Jun 2, 2024 7:00amGrey Clock 3 min

It takes marine pearls about two years to develop in their shells. It took Bonnie Fraker about two seconds to declare why she wouldn’t wear them around her neck. “A pearl necklace makes me look dated,” said the retired Manhattan teacher, 73. “Perhaps there’s such a thing as ‘too classic.’”

Still, pearls persist. Ask Leigh Batnick Plessner, chief creative officer at Catbird, the Brooklyn fine-jewellery label that counts Meghan Markle and Taylor Swift as fans. “Pearl necklaces are still in demand,” she said. “But the appetite has really changed from traditional necklaces to more surprising takes.”

The traditional strand has long signified opulence and power. Julius Caesar commanded that only aristocrats could wear the gem during his reign. Figures as diverse as Marie Antoinette and the Yongzheng Emperor of the Qing Dynasty coveted the strands. In the 20th century, stateswomen like Queen Elizabeth II and Mamie Eisenhower wore them to official events. By the 1980s, punks paired pearls with their spiked collars to subvert yuppie style. Still, pearls were most associated with formidable women like Margaret Thatcher and Barbara Bush, along with the preppy clique in the 1988 film “Heathers.”

Instead of stringing the old-school pearl necklace along, many of today’s brands make pearl chokers, sometimes with smaller “baby” pearls that sit at mid-neck instead of resting on clavicles. Dior’s Couture runway in Paris featured pearl chokers; California designer Sophie Buhai makes hers with a black satin-cotton cord and single central pearl. The style “looks more modern,” said June Ambrose, a creative director and costume designer for stars like Mary J. Blige and Ciara. Ambrose wears pearls from both thrift stores and Valentino.

Also popular: freshwater pearls, uniquely shaped instead of uniformly round. Once considered the messy stepsister of marine pearls, the gems look like smeared blobs of ivory glitter—in other words, odd enough for the fashion world to swoon. “I like the individualism of them,” said Simone Rocha, the designer whose recent couture line for Jean Paul Gaultier included gowns that subbed in strands of iridescent baroque pearls for typical satin straps. Off the runway, some women flaunt them as a way to look sophisticated but not uptight. “They feel a bit more rebellious,” noted Taffy Msipa, 28, an interior creative director in Bath, U.K., who wears her Monica Vinader freshwater pearl necklace with slouchy suits. “I like how they let me look elegant, but elegant in my way.”

There’s also the “half-and-half,” an industry term for a necklace that’s half pearls and half something else. On the recent Cannes red carpet, actress Michelle Yeoh, 69, wore Mikimoto’s version with cultured pearls on one side and a spray of diamonds, inlaid with white gold, on the other.

After Yeoh’s appearance, Instagram fans lauded the look with comments like “Not your grandmama’s pearls!” and “weird but amazing,” while searches for “half and half necklace” spiked 30% on Google Trends. A gold-and-pearl version of the style popped up in the “Mean Girls” movie remake, while pop star Dua Lipa has sported Vivienne Westwood’s pearl-and-rhinestone collar.

Don’t want to part with your classic strand of marine pearls? Dallas-based therapist Katie-Beth Crumrine, 23, had her vintage double-loop necklace shortened to a collar-length one. She wears it with linen Madewell tops and jeans. “It helps elevate my look,” she said. “But isn’t snobby.” Mixing pearls with casual pieces like ceramic beads can also keep them current. Meanwhile, the creative director Ambrose tells famous clientele to pair pearls with minimal makeup, because “a pearl necklace and a bare face is chic; a pearl necklace, a full face of makeup and a red lip is really trying.”

Some modern pearl looks eschew necks altogether. See the pearl-strung friendship bracelets by Vinader, and Rocha’s irregular pearl earrings. (“I like it when they’re kind of odd and not matching,” she said.) According to jewellery designer Plessner, varied interpretations have become the point. “Pearls are kind of like a Rorschach test for your fashion personality,” she explained. “You want to be weird or ethereal or powerful? There’s a pearl look for that.”

Are Pearls Too Old-Fashioned? We Asked NYC Women.

“They’re more classy than old-fashioned. They remind me of Jackie O. But would I wear them right now? No. Maybe when I’m older.” —Brittany Bower, 29, Hospital Nurse

“No! I wear my pearls a lot, actually. I really like the weight of how they feel on my neck.” —Tara Rubin, 69, Casting Director

“Yes, but in a nice way. They remind me of my great grandmother, Nita. She used to wear them. She used to let me play with them, which I loved. I don’t think I’d wear them now, though.”  —Sydney Willard, 29, Barista

“Nothing’s old-fashioned in 2024! I would wear pearls today, but, like, with a sweatshirt.” —Asia Harris, 24, Student

“I used to think they were kind of old-fashioned, like in ‘The Crown’, and then I started wearing them to the gym with a black workout tank. I have never felt more like a cool New York girl.”  —Tara Strahl, 42, Library Consultant



MOST POPULAR
11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

Related Stories
Lifestyle
A ‘cheeky’ seat takes out the top prize at Australia’s Next Top Designers Awards
By KANEBRIDGE NEWS 17/06/2024
Lifestyle
Aston Martin Refines Its Exotic Family Car
By Jim Motavalli 15/06/2024
Money
A Killer Golf Swing Is a Hot Job Skill Now
By CALLUM BORCHERS 14/06/2024
A ‘cheeky’ seat takes out the top prize at Australia’s Next Top Designers Awards

A cash prize from Kanebridge Quarterly magazine, offered for the first time this year, drew a record number of entries for the design competition

By KANEBRIDGE NEWS
Mon, Jun 17, 2024 2 min

A versatile stool with a sense of fun took out the top prize at the Australia’s Next Top Designers awards at Design Show Australia last week.

The ‘Cheeky’ stool designed by Maryam Moghadam was the unanimous winner among the judging panel, which included Kanebridge Quarterly magazine Editor in Chief, Robyn Willis, Workshopped Creative Director Olaf Sialkowski, Design Show event organiser, Andrew Vaughan and Creative Director at Flexmirror Australia, Matt Angus.

Designed as an occasional stool or side table, the Cheeky stool comes in a range of skin tones. The judges applauded its commercial applications, its flexibility to work in a range of environments, and its sense of play.

In accepting the $10,000 prize, designer Maryam Moghadam quipped she was pleased to see ‘other people find bums as funny as I do’. A finalist at last year’s awards, Moghadam will put the prize money towards bringing her product to market.

Winner Maryam Moghadam said the $10,000 prize money would be put towards developing her product further for market.

Australia’s Next Top Designers is in its fourth year, but this is the first year a cash prize has been offered. Kanebridge Quarterly magazine has put up the prize money to support the next generation of emerging industrial design talent in Australia.

Editor in Chief Robyn Willis said the cash prize offered the winner the opportunity to put the money towards whatever aspect of their business it would most benefit.

“That might be prototyping their product further, spending on marketing, or simply paying for travel or even childcare expenses to allow the designer to focus on their work and take it to the next stage,” she said. “We’re thrilled to be supporting this design program and nurturing emerging design in a very practical way.”

The Coralescence lamps from the Tide Pool series by Suzy Syme and Andrew Costa had strong commercial applications, the judges said.
The Mass lamp by Dirk Du Toit is crafted from FSC-certified oak or walnut.

Two finalists were also awarded ‘highly commended’ by the judges — Mass lamp by Dirk Du Toit and the Coralescence lights from Suzy Syme and Andrew Costa at Tide Pool Designs. The judges agreed both products were beautifully resolved from a design perspective, as well as having strong commercial applications in residential and hospitality design. 

MOST POPULAR
11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

Related Stories
Money
Ozempic Fuels Hunt for Smaller Clothes
By SUZANNE KAPNER 17/06/2024
Property
The two Australian states where it’s a buyers’ market
By Bronwyn Allen 18/06/2024
Lifestyle
Aston Martin Refines Its Exotic Family Car
By Jim Motavalli 15/06/2024
0
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop