There’s something about pearls that lends them a timeless allure. It was Coco Chanel who famously argued that “a woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls,” and Jackie Kennedy, among many others, agreed that “pearls are always appropriate.” So what exactly has made them unanimously beloved from one generation to the next?
It could be that they’re the only gem formed within a living being, and unlike diamonds and other stones, they’re presented as is—no cutting or polishing required—which also results in a range of iridescent shades. Because of this, they can also be quite significant in size, creating more indulgent and statement-making jewelry.
Or perhaps it’s what they symbolize. Pearls have long been believed to represent purity and calmness, as well as wisdom, protection, and good fortune (which is, in part, why they’re such a popular bridal choice, whether realized or not).
Whatever the reason, as a testament to their inimitable beauty and longevity, we’ve rounded up a few pieces of antique pearl jewelry below that have lived many more lives than any of us. Chanel and Kennedy would surely approve.
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