All round

The no­tion that pearls are old world has been well and truly de­bunked by shrewd de­sign­ers tak­ing a mod­ern an­gle. Tap their con­tem­po­rary cool by play­ing with shape and colour.

VOGUE Australia - - Viewpoint -

My first piece of proper jew­ellery was a pair of pearl studs my mother gave me for my 15th birth­day,” model Hannah Motler con­fides as I clip Chanel Tahi­tian pearls on to her lobes for a Vogue shoot. “I’ll al­ways trea­sure them.” Pearls have that ef­fect. Wear­ing them for the first time has been a rite of pas­sage for gen­er­a­tions. The Queen is of­ten seen in a three-strand pearl neck­lace, which was her first se­ri­ous piece of jew­ellery, given to her by her grand­fa­ther. As Hannah will dis­cover, pearls act as a touch­stone, link­ing you to your fam­ily and youth.

The other unique char­ac­ter­is­tic of a pearl is its opales­cent sheen, which has the ef­fect of lift­ing a face, ar­guably even more than make-up. How­ever, that as­sumes you have the right colour pearl for your skin tone. They come in myr­iad shades – shell pinks, metal­lic cop­pers, pea­cock greens, blues and but­tery yel­lows, one of which might suit you bet­ter. “First, I look at the skin un­der a client’s wrist,” ex­plains pearl ex­pert Chrissie Cole­man Dou­glas. It’s in­tu­itive; she cred­its her artist par­ents with giv­ing her a height­ened sense of colour. “I might twin a pearl with eye colour, or be in­flu­enced by a lip un­der­tone or skin pig­men­ta­tion,” she con­tin­ues, “but never hair colour, be­cause that can change.” Darker skin, she says, looks a mil­lion dol­lars against strong gold, whereas dark grey or warm pink is phe­nom­e­nal with pale com­plex­ions, “but only if she has brown eyes”. She prom­ises that when you place the right pearl next to your face, it’s the equiv­a­lent of turn­ing on the light in a room. Pearls, though, are not for show-offs.

“The point isn’t for the jew­ellery to stand out,” Cole­man Dou­glas tells me, “but to at­tract at­ten­tion to the wearer’s face.” They may re­main a com­ing-of-age jewel, but the young de­sign­ers and es­tab­lished in­no­va­tors who have made them cur­rent – like Aus­tralian au­thor­i­ties on the ma­te­rial, Pas­pa­ley and Kailis – bring a new dy­namism to pearls, bury­ing any twin­set con­no­ta­tions. Fret­ting over the sizes of South Seas ver­sus Akoya or Chi­nese fresh­wa­ter pearls is also a thing of the past. Now di­men­sions don’t mat­ter so much as find­ing the colour that works for you. Carol Woolton

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