Pearls; A Vintage Icon by Diane Marie

HANDS-WITH-PEARLSPearls are magical and have been a symbol of wealth, status and fashion for centuries. In mythology, pearls have a special place because they are considered to bring good luck, success and positive energy. In ancient Egypt, the legend says that Cleopatra slept in a bed with pearls, and wore jewelry made of pearls as a beneficial effect on her beauty and to repair her mood.

In medieval Europe, only royalty and high nobility were allowed to wear pearls — by law. During the 19th Century, no longer exclusive to royalty, pearls are the height of fashion. With the rise of democracy and the growing middle class, the pearl becomes a status symbol for anyone with money to burn.


Alexandra, the wife of the Prince of Wales, is known to wear several strings of pearls at once around her neck as a choker-style collar. All this to conceal a surgery scar on her neck. The pearl choker necklace is a fashion must-have amongst the rich for decades to follow.


Alexandra, Queen consort of the United Kingdom, in pearls

Due to economic situations, and the cost of genuine pearls, many women turn to costume jewelry as a staple. Costume jewelry becomes more popular with the fashion élite. Women can look good beyond the tradition of fine jewelry. Fake pearls filter down to the masses and economic depression turns attention towards cheap yet glamorous looks.

American actress Claudette Colbert (1903 - 1996) stars in 'The Barker' at the Playhouse Theatre, 21st May 1928. (Photo by Sasha/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

American actress Claudette Colbert (1903 – 1996) stars in ‘The Barker’ at the Playhouse Theatre, 21st May 1928.

With the rise of cinema and Hollywood glamour, the fashion tone is set and pearl necklaces are a sign of subtle elegance and femininity.

Grace Kelly’s elegant demeanor is sealed with a string of demure pearls around the neck.

Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly in pearls

Audrey Hepburn dresses in simple Euro-chic style with a small, demure strand of pearls.

audrey hepburn

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Jackie Kennedy’s classy style is epitomized by a triple-stranded faux pearl necklace.

Jackie Kennedy

Many women wear pearl jewelry on their wedding just because they believe it will bring them a happy and long lasting marriage. Pearls are inspirational, traditional and something we still think of as classic vintage.