Susan Miller

·Master of Fine Arts in Jewelry Design, Pratt Institute, 2012

·Bachelor of Arts in Gemology, University of California, Los Angeles, May 2005

·Editor-in-Chief, White Victoria (2018 - present)

·Write and research feature articles and profiles for print and online publication

·Contributing Writer, Modern Jeweler, and Ornament

·Write and publish freelance articles for IGS and WSJ Magazine

·Jewelry Appraiser (2012 - 2020)

Pearls hold a graceful allure that has captivated humanity for centuries.

From ancient legends to modern fashion runways, pearls have fascinated people with their enchanting stories.

Symbols of elegance and purity, pearls have a timeless appeal that goes beyond any specific era, making a lasting impact on fashion and culture.

When worn, pearls seem to radiate a subtle glow, illuminating the person with an unmatched delight.

Whether adorning necklaces, bracelets, earrings, or even embellishing clothing and accessories, pearls remain a timeless statement of sophistication and grace.

Pearls in Fashion

The Origins of Pearls

Pearls in Fashion

Pearls have a captivating origin rooted in the depths of the ocean.

These lustrous gems are formed when mollusks respond to irritants by secreting layers of nacre.

Whether natural or cultured, pearls hold a timeless allure that has fascinated humanity for centuries.

Pearls in Ancient History

Pearls in Fashion

In the archive of ancient history, pearls held a revered and mystical status.

From the opulent courts of ancient Egypt to the majestic empires of Rome and China, pearls adorned the elite, symbolizing wealth, status, and divine beauty. 

Mesopotamia: The birthplace of pearl adornment

Pearls in Fashion

Mesopotamia is the birthplace of pearl adornment due to its early recognition and utilization of pearls for ornamental purposes.

With their advanced civilization and flourishing trade networks, the ancient Mesopotamians discovered an abundance of pearls in the nearby Persian Gulf.

Mesopotamian legends spoke of pearls as tears of the gods, linking them to divine blessings.

They recognized the allure and rarity of these natural gems, incorporating them into their jewelry and personal adornments. 

Egypt: Pearls in the land of pharaohs

Pearls in Fashion

Egypt's historical association with pearls is evidence of their enduring allure and prestigious position in the land of pharaohs.

In ancient Egypt, pearls held immense significance and were regarded as symbols of divine beauty, fertility, and regal power.

Egyptian pharaohs' luxurious and opulent lifestyles were adorned with pearl jewelry, including necklaces, earrings, and headdresses, showcasing their wealth and status.

Pearls were also incorporated into ceremonial and religious artifacts, emphasizing their spiritual and cultural importance.

Ancient China: The symbol of wealth and status

Pearls in Fashion

In ancient China, pearls were regarded as symbols of wealth and status due to their rarity, exquisite beauty, and association with imperial power.

Limited access to the sea made pearls precious and highly sought after.

Emperors and nobles adorned themselves with pearl jewelry as a mark of wealth and social standing.

In ancient Chinese culture, pearls were often used to embellish ceremonial robes, crowns, and other regal attire, emphasizing their value and prestige.

Renaissance of Pearls

Pearls in Fashion

The Renaissance Era: Pearls as a fashion statement

Pearls in Fashion

During the Renaissance, pearls emerged as a prominent fashion statement, making them a coveted accessory among the fashionable elite.

The fashion-forward individuals of the Renaissance embraced pearls as an essential element of their personal style, showcasing their admiration for these exquisite gems.

They were incorporated into various fashion pieces, including necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and hair ornaments.

The luxurious appeal of pearls complemented the lavish attire worn by the elite, enhancing their elegance and sophistication.

Pearls in royal courts and nobility

Pearls in Fashion

Pearls were utilized extensively by the royal courts and nobility class as a means of displaying wealth, status, and refined taste.

These were incorporated into extravagant jewelry pieces, including necklaces, bracelets, earrings, tiaras, and brooches, accentuating the status of the royal families.

Apart from it, these were often sewn onto garments, used as buttons, or incorporated into ceremonial robes, adding a touch of elegance and luxury to royal attire.

Queen Elizabeth I and the iconic "Pearl Drop" earring

Pearls in Fashion

Queen Elizabeth I of England was known for her iconic fashion choices, including her distinctive "Pearl Drop'' earring.

She was often depicted wearing the pearl drop earring in the portraits of her era, showcasing her love for pearls.

The pearl drop earrings became Queen Elizabeth I's signature accessory choice which eventually solidified its place in fashion history and elevated the status of pearls as a fashionable accessory.

Coco Chanel: Pioneering Pearl Fashion

Pearls in Fashion

Coco Chanel, the renowned French fashion designer and founder of the fashion house “Chanel,” is known for her timeless designs, modern approach, and pioneering spirit.

Her efforts not only transformed the perception of pearls but also influenced the way they are used and celebrated in the fashion industry to this day.

Coco Chanel: Revolutionizing fashion with pearls

Pearls in Fashion

Coco Chanel transformed how pearls were perceived and incorporated them into her designs in groundbreaking ways.

Before Chanel, pearls were primarily associated with traditional and formal jewelry, often worn as single strands with matching earrings.

However, Chanel sought to challenge the established norms and introduced pearls in unconventional and unexpected ways, making them accessible and fashionable for everyday wear.

Not only jewelry; she also embellished garments with pearls, creating intricate patterns and designs.

The Chanel Suit and pearl necklace: An Iconic Duo

Pearls in Fashion

The Chanel suit and pearl necklace became an iconic duo in the fashion world after Coco Chanel herself established it as her signature look.

A Chanel suit, often adorned with multiple strands of pearls, represented the epitome of Chanel's vision for modern and empowered women, symbolizing timeless elegance, sophistication, and the legacy of Coco Chanel herself. 

Coco Chanel's influence on modern pearl fashion

Pearls in Fashion

Coco Chanel's influence on modern pearl fashion is undeniable. She transformed the perception of pearls, making them accessible and relevant in everyday wear.

Chanel revolutionized their use by mixing pearls with non-precious materials and incorporating them into clothing.

Her iconic layering and stacking techniques, along with the introduction of the rope necklace, added versatility and a sense of individuality to pearl jewelry. 

Pearls in Haute Couture

Pearls in Fashion

Pearls in haute couture have long been a hallmark of luxury and magnificence.

Renowned fashion houses incorporate these timeless gems into exquisite creations, from stunning pearl-encrusted gowns to elegant accessories. 

Dior: Pearls and the New Look Revolution

Pearls in Fashion

Dior's use of pearls played a significant role in the fashion revolution known as the New Look.

In the post-World War II era, Christian Dior introduced New Look collection, which celebrated femininity and luxury, with pearls serving as key embellishments.

The classic elegance of pearls perfectly complemented the sculpted silhouettes and opulent fabrics of the New Look designs.

Dior's incorporation of pearls into clothing, jewelry, and accessories became synonymous with the brand's refined aesthetic.

Pearls as embellishments in haute couture designs

Pearls as embellishments in haute couture designs are significant in elevating garments to the highest level of luxury and craftsmanship.

Their natural beauty and timeless appeal make them a perfect choice for designers seeking to create exquisite and captivating pieces.

In haute couture designs, carefully placing pearls demands a keen eye for detail, as designers may diligently sew individual pearls onto fabrics by hand.

Contemporary designers and their love for pearls

Contemporary designers have developed a deep affection for pearls in haute couture.

They are thrilled by the elegance and charm that pearls bring to their designs, using them creatively and innovatively.

Their love for pearls is evident in the intricate craftsmanship and attention to detail displayed in their haute couture creations.

Pearls in Accessory Design

Pearls in Fashion

Pearls are pivotal in accessory design, adding a touch of refinement and luxury.

They are used in various forms, such as necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings, to create stunning and timeless pieces.

Pearl jewelry: An essential accessory

Pearl jewelry is an essential accessory due to its timeless beauty, symbolism, versatility, sentimental value, and enduring appeal.

It adds a touch of refinement and sophistication to any ensemble, making it a staple in every jewelry collection.

Their soft and neutral hues can complement different skin tones and outfits, making them a versatile accessory for any wardrobe.

Pearl earrings: Classic elegance for every occasion

Pearls in Fashion

Pearl earrings make a classic choice for any occasion that transcends fleeting fashion trends.

The soft glow of pearls enhances the individual's features and adds a touch of refinement to any outfit.

Whether it's a formal event, a business meeting, or a casual gathering, pearl earrings elevate the overall look with their understated elegance.

They are a safe bet for those who seek a timeless accessory that will never go out of style.

Pearl bracelets and necklaces: Versatile and sophisticated

Pearls in Fashion

When worn as bracelets or necklaces, Pearls draw attention to the neckline or wrists, adding a focal point of sophistication to the overall look.

They can be worn alone for a subtle and classic look or layered with other bracelets and necklaces for a more diverse and personalized style.

This versatility allows individuals to create unique combinations that complement their outfits and personal taste.

Modern Interpretations of Pearls

Pearls in Fashion

In the modern fashion, pearls have transformed from traditional and conservative to innovative and contemporary.

The modern interpretation of pearls represents a fusion of classic elegance with a contemporary aesthetic, appealing to a new generation of fashion enthusiasts.

Pearls in unconventional designs

Designers are reimagining pearl jewelry by experimenting with shapes, colors, and materials, pushing the boundaries of traditional designs.

Designers incorporate pearls into handbags, shoes, hair accessories, and clothing.

Pearl-embellished sneakers, handbags with pearl handles, and pearl-adorned hairpins are just a few examples of how pearls break free from their traditional boundaries and enter new realms of fashion.

Pearls in contemporary street style

Whether worn as a single statement piece or layered for a more aesthetic look, pearls in contemporary street style add a touch of refinement.

Street style enthusiasts adorn themselves with pearl-embellished denim jackets, pearl-studded sneakers, and pearl-accented accessories.

Pearls are being integrated into everyday looks by fashion-forward individuals, challenging the conventional perception of these precious gems and redefining their role in contemporary fashion. 

Mixing pearls with other materials: A modern twist

In a modern twist on accessorizing, fashion enthusiasts are experimenting with mixing pearls with other materials, creating unique and captivating combinations.

Fashion enthusiasts are breaking traditional fashion boundaries by pairing pearls with unconventional elements like leather, metal, or even rubber.

An unexpected pairing of a leather jacket with a pearl statement necklace creates a captivating visual, showcasing a fearless sense of style.

The Power of Pearls in Bridal Fashion

Pearls in Fashion

In bridal fashion, pearls have an unparalleled ability to captivate and enchant.

Their iridescent luster and timeless allure make them perfect for brides seeking elegance and grace on their special day.

Pearls as symbols of purity and innocence

Wearing pearls on special occasions, particularly in bridal attire, represents the bride's purity of heart and the beginning of a new chapter filled with love and hope.

Adorning the bride in pearl jewelry or incorporating pearls into the wedding gown is a timeless tradition that signifies the bride's untainted spirit.

The presence of pearls in bridal fashion adds a touch of ethereal charm, emphasizing the bride's innocence and the sacredness of the matrimonial bond.

Pearl bridal jewelry trends

Seeking versatility in their jewelry choices, brides opt for simple and understated pearl pieces, such as delicate pearl stud earrings or dainty pearl pendant necklaces.

Convertible pearl pieces that can be worn differently are gaining popularity among brides for their big day.

Rather than sticking to the common pearl size and color, brides embrace a mix of pearl sizes and colors in their jewelry. 

Pearls in wedding dresses: Timeless elegance personified

Concerning wedding dresses, pearls embody timeless elegance like no other.

They add a touch of elegance and refinement to wedding gowns, creating a look that is both classic and enchanting.

Pearls possess the transformative power to turn a wedding dress into a masterpiece, either by adorning the bodice, waistline, or sleeves.

The Global Influence of Pearls

Pearls in Fashion

The global influence of pearls is undeniable, as they have been cherished and adored by people from diverse backgrounds throughout history. 

Pearls in Asian Fashion: A rich cultural heritage

In many Asian countries, pearls hold great symbolism and signify prosperity, purity, and feminine beauty.

Pearls have been incorporated into traditional attire such as cheongsams, saris, hanboks, kimonos, and kebayas, enhancing the grace and allure of these iconic garments reflecting Asian culture.

Pearls in Western fashion: A symbol of refinement

Pearls have a timeless quality that has maintained its allure throughout Western fashion history.

From casual to formal, pearls are prominent in Western fashion, adding to the attire’s elegance.

Adding a string of pearls to a simple blouse or a pair of pearl studs to jeans and a t-shirt instantly elevates the overall look.

Pearls efficiently demonstrate their versatility in Western fashion through fashion events, runway shows, or the world of bridal fashion.

Pearls in contemporary global fashion

Pearls beautifully blend tradition with modernity in contemporary fashion.

Designers combine pearls with unconventional materials, experiment with innovative designs, and introduce new ways of incorporating pearls into garments and accessories, creating a fresh and contemporary aesthetic.

Whether a pearl-embellished little black dress, a pearl neckline, or a pearl-detailed blazer, it redefines traditional gender norms in fashion.

The Care and Maintenance of Pearls

Pearls in Fashion

Proper care and maintenance are essential for preserving the beauty and luster of pearls.

Following the right care routine will help maintain their shine and keep them looking exquisite for years.

Cleaning and storing pearls: Best practices

Cleaning and storing pearls properly is essential to preserve their beauty and protect them from damage.

Some of the best practices for effective cleaning are:

  • Gently wipe pearls with a soft, damp cloth to remove any oils or residues after each wear.
  • Clean pearls with a mild, non-abrasive soap solution and rinse thoroughly with water. Pat them dry with a soft cloth.

Some storage practices for keeping a pearl in good condition are:

  • Store pearls separately from other jewelry to prevent scratches. Wrap them in a soft cloth or place them in a soft pouch.
  • Avoid exposing pearls to extreme temperatures, direct sunlight, or excessive humidity.
  • Keep pearls away from chemicals, perfumes, and cosmetics, as they can cause discoloration.

Preserving the luster and longevity of pearls

Preserving the luster and longevity of pearls requires proper care and attention. Some ways to retain their shine and elegance are:

  • Avoid exposing pearls to harsh chemicals such as perfumes, cosmetics, and hair products.
  • After wearing pearls, gently wipe them with a soft, lint-free cloth to remove any dirt or oils. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or brushes that can damage the pearls' surface.
  • Avoid storing them with other jewelry pieces that may have sharp edges. Ideally, keep them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperature fluctuations.


Pearls in Fashion

A journey through the timeless elegance of pearls in fashion

The journey through the timeless elegance of pearls in fashion reveals their ability to adapt, transform, and captivate.

From classic adornments to innovative designs, pearls continue to symbolize sophistication and grace.

Fashion enthusiasts have pushed the boundaries of pearl jewelry design, experimenting with unique shapes, materials, and arrangements.

Pearls as a symbol of sophistication and refinement

As rare and precious gems, pearls have been treasured throughout history, often worn by royalty and the elite.

The process of pearl formation, cultivated within oysters over time, represents patience and beauty emerging from nature.

Their timeless appeal and historical significance have established pearls as an enduring symbol of sophistication and refined taste.


Pearls in Fashion

How are cultured pearls different from natural pearls?

Cultured pearls are created through a deliberate process by human intervention, while natural pearls form organically in nature without any human involvement.

Can pearls be worn casually, or are they only for formal occasions?

Pearls can be worn both casually and for formal occasions. While they are often associated with elegance and formality, they can also be incorporated into casual outfits to add a touch of sophistication and timeless charm to everyday attire.

Are pearls considered a luxury item in today's fashion?

Yes, pearls are still considered a luxury item in today's fashion. They are valued for their rarity, beauty, and association with elegance, making them a sought-after and prestigious accessory.

What is the significance of pearls in bridal fashion?

Pearls are commonly incorporated into bridal jewelry, veils, and accessories to enhance the bride's overall look and add a touch of elegance. Brides often wear them as symbols of purity, innocence, and beauty.

How can I ensure the longevity of my pearl jewelry?

To ensure the longevity of your pearl jewelry, handle them with care and avoid exposing them to harsh chemicals or excessive heat. Store them separately from other jewelry in a soft pouch or box to prevent scratches.