I don’t think there is anything as timeless and elegant as a string of pearls. Just the phrase may conjure up images of the effortless sophistication of Michelle Obama, or Diana, Princess of Wales, who wore a pearl collar when she stepped out in the infamous revenge dress, perhaps even Taylor Swift, who wore her pearls with a t-shirt and jeans. If you’re an ancient history lover like we are, you might think of royalty from China to Persia to Western Europe, or even the passage in the Iliad that scholars believe referred to pearl drop earrings worn by the queen of the pantheon
“Hera then fixed earrings in her pierced ear lobes, / each with three gemstones, an enchanting glitter.” (14.182-3)
Enchanting, indeed; pearls are for the opulent, the dramatic, the glamorous, yet fit comfortably in any time or place. Paired with a sundress as a subtle, but ethereal touch to your daytime look. Layered with intent by the maximalist. A callback to all of the powerful women who chose to wear pearls—or drink them, if you’re familiar with the grandeur of Cleopatra’s dinner parties. Whoever you are and however you present yourself, they are more than a wardrobe staple. Pearls are alive and awake in history, yet they remain mysterious and beguiling.
“See these pearls, that long have slept; / These were the tears by Naiads wept...” (Sir Walter Scott, The Bridal of Triermain XXVI)
A natural pearl, perfectly imperfect, is shaped only by time and oysters.
Scarce and beautiful, they sing of the sea.
A pearl earring is a drop of the ocean, a little piece of home, a teardrop, a memory.
The weight in the hand does not match the look: you would think it gossamer, the airy, delicate otherworldliness of a pearl necklace. It’s like fresh, cool water on the back of your neck in the heat of the afternoon.
For those who move through the world on their own path, who obey only the laws of nature and time, a natural pearl captures the wild heart. It is unique, luminescent, it matches her strange beauty: so easy to look at, so hard to define.