Pearls have long been associated with weddings. Find out why and how to wear them on your special day.
Pearls are a beautiful choice for bridal jewelry on your wedding day. Pearls are simple and perfect — and can be worn long after your wedding since they’re a staple of a fine jewelry wardrobe. But the reason they’re so popular may have something to do with their long history.
A look back
Prior to the 1900s and the advent of cultured pearl farming, the only way to get a pearl was to dive for oysters (long before the development of oil drilling, the Arabian Gulf was a rich source of pearls). Not every oyster had a pearl, and not every pearl was round — so you can imagine how long it might take and how much it would cost for a perfectly matched or graduated strand of pearls. Pearls were only available to royalty or the rich. Even though pearls are more available to the rest of us, they still bring that history of being special, reserved for only the most important occasions. So, yeah, it’s safe to say that pearls are perfect for weddings.
In ancient cultures, pearls also represented purity — much like the present-day tradition of the white dress. Although Pearls are also said to represent tears, one tradition says wearing pearls on your wedding day will ensure your marriage is happy and you won’t shed tears during it. In fact, many brides get their first cultured pearl necklace from their mothers or mothers-in-law — passing down a tradition. They’re also a popular gift from fiancés.
A look forward
So if you’re going to wear pearls as bridal jewelry, what will you wear and how will you wear them? Think about your dress — its neckline, length and proportions. A design that shows a lot of your neck and clavicle — like strapless, off-the-shoulder, V-neck or square — really should be completed by a necklace. A single or double strand of pearls worn as a choker or longer always looks fantastic and elegant. Those pearls don’t have to be white, either. All-black or a mix of white and black strands or other colors can be absolutely stunning and a little unexpected. If your dress has a bateau neck, the choker length is your best option. If colored pearls are intriguing to you, the True Culture™ collection at Kay Jewelers has plenty of styles in many colors.
A large, perfect pearl worn singularly as a pendant can also make a statement. To go a little imperfect, look for a baroque pearl — one that is off-round and may be a more interesting shape, but still beautiful. A simple pendant like this works well with a halter cut, because the chain will slip comfortably under the dress at the back of your neck. Or split the difference: a chain with graduated pearls lying only at the front is different and stylish.
More complicated designs or those closer to the neck — like a high-neck, Queen Anne, illusion or jewel-neck — make a necklace too much of a good thing. Instead, it’s time to think about earrings. Studs are classic, sure, and if you’re feeling a bit edgy, you can put a little spin on things by trying one of this year’s biggest trends, mismatched earrings. One black and one pink, maybe, or if you’re going to match, pick one of the many colors of pearls that might match your wedding colors. You can stay with simple studs but still embellish them — pearls surrounded by diamonds or gemstones can add either an extra sparkle or a shot of color. If your neckline comes high up your neck, like the high-neck or the Queen Anne, you might want to stay with simple earrings, though you can still work a pair of drop earrings if the drop is short and simple.
But even pearl drop earrings come in a wide variety of styles, colors and moods. They can be sleek and modern black pearls at the end of a slim white gold drop. They can be the focus of your wedding jewelry with a chandelier dripping strands of pearls accented with diamonds. Or bring romance with white oval pearls set in rose gold and a smattering of diamonds.
One of the best things about pearls is their timelessness, no matter what design they’re used in. You may inherit your wedding pearls. And you may be lucky enough to pass them on to a new generation.