Perfect Pearls: Choices That Flatter – What We Can Learn from Nancy Pelosi

By Cynthia Sliwa


In my last blog, I wrote about the power conveyed by the signature strands of pearls often seen adorning the neck of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Today I’d like to dissect her choices further.


Happily, unlike the imitation pearls favored by Barbara Bush and the faux strands worn by Jackie Kennedy, Ms. Pelosi’s pearls are genuine. Powerful women are taking note. And not just powerful women – Ms. Pelosi made Blackwell’s best-dressed list. Jewelry buyers around the world are taking note.


Ms. Pelosi’s necklace wardrobe includes:

  • A single strand of large champagne-colored South Sea pearls
  • A single strand of large multi-colored pearls, and
  • A four-strand necklace of small black pearls. 

As you know, the factors used in evaluating the quality of pearls include:

  • Luster
  • Surface
  • Shape
  • Size
  • Color and
  • Matching

By all reports, Ms. Pelosi’s pearls are of exceptional quality. Not all of these factors are equally determinable from a distance, however, especially to an average viewer. All the average person registers is that: (1) the pearls are large! and (2) they’re interesting – they’re not the usual soft white color.


From the standpoint of an image consultant, what I look for is whether the jewelry choices flatter the wearer. And here, Ms. Pelosi succeeds brilliantly.


The most formal of the necklace choices noted above is, of course, the champagne pearls. Estimated at about 13 – 14 mm in size, these are formidable pearls! The color is elegant yet mellow so as to make the wearer look approachable. The length of the strand keeps the attention on her face.


These pearls are especially attractive on her because:

·        The color suits her personal coloring.

·        The size of the pearls relates to her relatively large facial features and also to her lively personality.

·        The length of the strand is at her Second Balance Point, one of the optimal lengths for a necklace (watch for more on this subject in a future blog).


All of these factors – color, size and length – are personal to the woman. The same pearls on, say, Dianne Feinstein, would not be as attractive because of her very different personal coloring and the higher level of contrast between her skin and hair color. The multi-color strand, which inherently includes more contrast, would likely be a more visually appealing choice for Ms. Feinstein.


When assisting a customer in selecting a strand of pearls, go beyond the six traditional factors of pearl quality and consider the unique features of the customer herself. Remember, paraphrasing Coco Chanel, that the purpose of jewelry isn’t to make the wearer look rich; the purpose is to adorn the woman. Whatever your political persuasion, the result will be a winning choice!






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