Where has our love and fascination for timeless pearl jewelry stemmed from? Is it from our earliest fashion role models like mothers, aunts, and grandmothers, or the first time we saw Princess Diana’s sapphire and pearl choker? Pearl jewelry has been around for millennia but continues to have appeal for new generations.
My love of pearls comes from my grandmother. Growing up, I fondly remember sifting through her Korean jade jewelry box, styling her rings, necklaces, and a rainbow of brooches. The things that always caught my eye, however, were her pearl rings, bracelets, and necklaces. Seeing my soft-spoken grandmother quietly sit in the front row of the church pew on Sunday with her pearl jewelry set was captivating and would leave little me in awe.
Now, as a 25-year-old, I’m on the quest to find memorable and heirloom jewelry that I can cherish and keep forever. While my memories of pearls are of my stately grandmother and the Royal Family, that doesn’t mean I’ve set out to collect just traditional (and expensive) strands. Modern jewelry designers are keeping things fresh with chunky or super-fine pearls, mixed materials, and perfectly imperfect shapes.
Although I might not be spending lavish money on thousand-dollar pearls from Bulgari, more affordable jewelry brands such as Mejuri, Kendra Scott, and Astrid & Miyu offer equally stunning and timeless genuine freshwater pearl options under $150. There are bold hoops from Mejuri for day-to-night wear and other silhouettes like bracelets crafted with baroque pearls for a more casual, no-fuss aesthetic.
When searching for an investment piece to cherish, you want one that aligns with your style preference, not what you see in movies. Instead, search for jewelry that fits with your lifestyle that you can envision styling with a plethora of outfits. With reasonable care, your chosen piece can look as good as the first day you bought it and will last for a lifetime. (In fact, frequent wearing is good for pearls — they can dry out if left in your jewelry box too long!) My only tip for shopping for less pricey pearls is to be wary of glass or imitation ones, which are more prone to peeling. Plus, they won’t always deliver the lustrous pearl shine without an iridescent coating.
No matter what you decide to buy, you’ll never go wrong with pearl jewelry, and it’s never too late to try one. My 93-year-old Grandma is here to vouch for it.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.
For more can’t-miss shopping stories delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our Most Wanted newsletter.
Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?