Antique & Estate Jewelry / Pearls

An Ode To Antique Pearls

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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.

1stDibs pearl necklace
Antique necklace, circa 1890, in yellow gold and silver with 668 3 mm–7.4 mm natural pearls and 2.3 cts. t.w. round brilliant-cut diamonds, $297,800; 1stDibs
Mikimoto pearl earrings
Mikimoto antique earrings in 18k gold with cultured button pearls and 0.34 ct. t.w. round brilliant-cut diamonds, $2,850; Lang Antiques
Hancocks pearl bangle
Antique bangle, circa 1880s, in 15k yellow gold with 88 3.5 mm round cream half pearls and rose-cut diamond points, approximately $23,700; Hancocks
Lang Antiques pearl ring
Victorian ring in 14k yellow gold with 5.8 mm–6.9 mm white pearls and 1 ct. t.w. old European–cut diamonds, $12,750; Lang Antiques
1stDibs pearl brooch
Antique French brooch, circa 1890 (also shown at top), in 18k gold and enamel with 8 mm natural white South Sea pearl and old mine–cut diamonds, $12,000; 1stDibs

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By: Annie Davidson

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