20 Pearl Necklaces for the Class of 2020

As far as high school and college graduation gifts go, the pearl necklace is as classic as it gets, but the options have expanded considerably from the typical, although eternally lovely, 16- or 18-inch strand of akoyas. I think I got mine for my 21st birthday, so I was able to wear it to my college graduation festivities (in the pouring rain).

Who knows what the class of 2020 is feeling pearl-wise? I’m guessing jewelry is the furthest thing from their minds, whether they’re headed to collegiate life or the “real world” with jobs and bills. But I am also reminded of what President Obama said in his televised “Graduate Together” speech: “…the disappointments of missing a live graduation—those will pass pretty quick.”

Perhaps this year a pearl necklace or pendant can counter those disappointments with a bittersweet acknowledgment of them and redirect the graduate to the fact that the jewel is something she’ll have forever. It’s something for the next chapter—and for all that is yet to come.

“What remains true is that your graduation marks your passage into adulthood—the time when you begin to take charge of your own life,” Obama further noted in the graduation speech.

And pearls have always been the perfect accessory for this journey.

Consider the example below, a mini pearl trousseau from the legendary house of Mikimoto, which includes not just the requisite necklace but an entire pearl “toolbox.”

I like imagining who might receive such an elegant graduation gift and where they’re headed. Main Gate at Vassar College? A symphony orchestra? A prestigious medical research facility? The political stage?


Mikimoto pearl set
Akoya cultured pearl and 18k white gold three-piece set (18-inch strand, stud earrings, and bracelet), $4,410; Mikimoto

Here are several more pearl necklace gift ideas, handpicked for the class of 2020 as they hit the road that’s rising up to meet them.

Mastoloni pearl necklace
Gifts From the Sea Collection Artemis necklace with cultured white freshwater pearls on an 18-inch 14k yellow gold chain, $310; Mastoloni
Doryn Wallach gladiator necklace
Pearl Gladiator necklace with freshwater pearls in 18k gold on a 16-inch ball chain, $3,160; Doryn Wallach
Katey Walker pearl necklace
Freshwater pearl and diamond necklace in 18k yellow gold on a 16-inch chain, $1,395; Katey Walker
Imperial pearl and diamond necklace
Akoya cultured pearl and diamond necklace in 14k white gold, $850; Imperial Pearl
Halleh pearl emerald pendant
Trillion Pearl necklace with freshwater pearl and emerald in 18k yellow gold, $1,870; Halleh
Jemma Wynne pearl initial necklace
Prive pearl Letter necklace with diamond detail in 18k yellow gold, $1,890; Jemma Wynne 
Lady Grey Stratus necklace
Stratus necklace with freshwater pearls in 14k gold-plated bronze, $144; Lady Grey
Zoe Chicco pearl pendant
Baroque pearl and floating diamond necklace in 14k yellow gold, $725; Zöe Chicco 
Parulina pearl and diamond necklace
Parulina pearl and diamond necklace, $5,600; Parulina
Rachel Quinn neck cuff
Storm Cloud neck cuff with keshi pearl and white topaz in sterling silver and 14k gold, $980; Rachel Quinn
Colette Warrior pearl necklace
Warrior necklace with pearls and black and white diamonds in 18k white gold, $38,770; Colette 



Melanie Georgacopoulos nacre necklace
Nacre necklace with mother-of-pearl and white South Sea pearls in 18k white gold, price on request; Melanie Georgacopoulos
Reinstein Ross pearl necklace
Isabella necklace with freshwater pearls in 18k peach gold, $2,960; Reinstein Ross


Jacquie Aiche Y necklace
Y necklace with white pearl drop and trillion diamond on14k yellow gold and diamond chain,$5,500; Jacquie Aiche
Assael pearl necklace
Silk Collection necklace with akoya pearls on a 36-inch 18k yellow gold chain, $4,900; Assael
Baggins pearl and chain necklace
18-inch akoya pearl and chain necklace in 14k gold white gold, $720; Baggins


Top, clockwise from left: Double baroque pearl choker with gold-filled wire, $250, Mary MacGill; Akoya cultured pearl pendant in 18k white gold, $2,500, Mikimoto; and strand of akoya pearls with 18k white gold clasp, $5,750; Tara


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All That Glitters writer