There are books on pearls tracing their history and the romance of their harvesting; and there are books on fashion, outlining the artistic and intricate ways in which styles become important. Now, for the first time, there’s a book that combines the two into a beautifully illustrated narrative on the important link between fashion and pearls.
People & Pearls: The Magic Endures, by Ki Hackney and Diana Edkins, uses photographs as much as words to show how pearls have influenced people and fashion, and how people and fashion throughout the centuries have used pearls to help define themselves. “With quiet grace and seductive allure, pearls help a woman convey who she is, or who she wants to be,” say the authors in the book’s introduction.
The 226-page book packs quite a bit of information, covering the basics on pearls and pearl buying as well as the men and women who have had an impact on and been identified by their pearls. While there is little new information in the book about women who have made pearls their symbol-including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Coco Chanel, Grace Kelly, Princess Diana, and Queen Elizabeth I-the authors manage to weave in the meaning of the pearls and how the women used the gems to convey image, beauty, and elegant style.
An entire chapter is dedicated to Grace Kelly, Princess Diana, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. “Grace’s use of pearls reflected the discreet, upper-class elegance of the times,” the book explains, noting that “Jackie and Diana took more aggressive postures. Jackie treated pearls as a uniform, in the manner of a grown-up schoolgirl. Able to draw from her royal box of showpiece jewelry, Diana took an eclectic route, tasteful but, just as often, sexy.”
There are detailed histories of pearls among children (such as the four daughters of Czar Nicholas of Russia) and royalty (from modern day icons like Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece to famous British queens and royal families in India). The book also includes profiles of various women-for example, Nancy Reagan-who used pearls to identify themselves as traditionalists.
There is an intricate explanation of how pearls are used by men and women to transform themselves, and how Hollywood has influenced the world’s view of pearls: “For moviegoers, pearls have been synonymous with the elegance, glamour, and basic femininity of some of our favorite heroines.” from Scarlett O’Hara to Holly Golightly.
Finally, retailers may find selling tools in the “Eternal Lights” chapter. What woman doesn’t want to live up to the personalities of the women outlined here, women who all made pearls their jewelry of choice?
“The women on these final pages were selected because they represent all the human qualities that are valued in pearls,” says the book. “Pearls are compelling in their natural beauty. They have depth and character that improve with time. Pearls require special care and nurturing to mature and develop properly. They exist outside the whims of fashion. And they have everlasting style.”
While the book offers the traditional educational information on caring for pearls and understanding pearl varieties and quality, its appeal is much less tangible. Launched recently during a party at Mikimoto’s Fifth Avenue boutique, People & Pearls draws upon the modern reader’s obsession with celebrity and style-imagine a book-size version of InStyle magazine, focusing entirely on pearls and using images of celebrities throughout the years.