A Nontraditional Take on a Tradition

Play a word-association game with “pearls” and the answers would likely include: traditional, grandmother, Jackie O., and strand.

Modern design, however, is testing those stereotypes. Today, pearls are just as likely to be combined with semiprecious gems in up-to-the-minute silhouettes as they are to be found in a simple strand. This new take on pearls is partly the result of the versatility afforded by the lowered price points of freshwater varieties, and partly the result of the general shift of jewelry toward fashion. Both factors have helped obliterate long-held prohibitions against combining pearls (or any precious gem) with anything other than gold or platinum.

Just a few years ago, silver seemed a radical partner for diamonds or pearls. Today, designers use everything from wood to rubber to leather to create on-trend, fashion-forward jewelry women crave.