Rapaport Magazine
Style & Design


Diamonds & pearls

Young designers are offering a modern take on a time-honored favorite.

By Rachael Taylor

Other than gold and diamonds, there are few combinations in jewelry as classic as the pairing of diamonds and pearls. One lustrous, the other sparkling, both throw off light and illuminate the skin in a way that has captivated us for centuries and continues to do so.

Both gems have won their allure through their rarity. In the days when finding a pearl was a lucky happenstance, rather than a seasonal guarantee delivered by today’s modern cultured pearl farms, their ownership was restricted to the very acme of society — royalty. Diamonds, too, were limited to the very rich, and therefore a combination of the two indicated social status.

As the advance of cultured pearls at the onset of the 20th century made the gems more accessible, the addition of diamonds helped to retain a sense of exclusivity. When combined, these were not everyday jewels, but milestone gifts brought out at important moments. As the owners of these gems aged, so did the appeal of their sautoirs, three-string bracelets with diamond-set clasps, and clip-on cluster earrings.

But as a new millennium arrived, so did a revolution. Young jewelry designers started to reclaim the pearl, with the battle cry that the gems were no longer just for grandmothers. While pearls flirted with new partners, like tough studs, silk bows and chain rather than string, designers kept returning to the combination of diamonds and pearls, albeit in modern configurations with geometric leanings or minimalist swishes of gold.

Now that all stereotypes have been well and truly eliminated, pearls can be as edgy as any other gem, with dark Tahitians in blackened settings beckoning the rock ’n’ roll crowd, and the naturally rogue baroques appealing to nature-obsessed millennials.

However, classic pearl and diamond designs that recall the golden era of pomp, tiaras and multi-strand chokers are also in favor. This is a trend that jewelers believe to be a direct result of our current television habits — shows like Victoria and The Crown have revived an interest in more formal pearl and diamond styles. But some would argue that classics will always be in style, and diamond and pearl jewels are most definitely a classic.

Shining examples
Frances Wadsworth Jones

This designer has a brilliant sense of humor when it comes to jewelry. After her Thieves collection and its jewel-stealing ants, her new offering, called Who?, casts pearls in the leading role, making them into comical creations like the Dude Luxe Tahitian pearl pendant with black-diamond-studded, yellow gold sunglasses.

Melanie Georgacopoulos

The master of modern pearl jewelry’s latest range, MOP Gemstones, plays with the relationship between pearls and diamonds without actually using any of the latter. Instead, she uses mother-of-pearl facets to create popular diamond cuts, such as the marquise of the above brooch, with subtle shade differences recreating the fire.

Sarah Ho

This designer has a penchant for conch pearls, and spent two years collecting the ones in the Persica suite from which the ring above hails. Her selections show off the subtle variations in their color and shape: The slightly triangular ones placed above and below the central, large South Sea pearl are particularly rare. The baguette-cut diamonds give the soft luster of the pearls an almost futuristic edge.


The beautifully lustrous baroque pearls in this yellow-gold cuff (above) look as soft and fluffy as a pair of poached eggs. Open cuffs stoppered by two pearls are a popular style, but the exaggerated size of these almost-touching baroques set this design apart. Two tiny diamonds in rub-over settings add sparkle and accentuate the cuff’s playful proportions.

Nadine Aysoy

The Tsarina earrings by Nadine Aysoy aim to capture forever the romance of snowflakes in icy white gold and diamonds. The baroque pearl drops are detachable, allowing the perfectly formed flakes, with their tiny clusters of diamonds stretching out from two large round brilliants, to be worn as studs. For a flash of color, the central diamonds can be swapped for colored gemstones.

Image: Frances Wadsworth Jones Dude Luxe Tahitian pearl pendant; Melanie Georgacopoulos Marquise brooch; Sarah Ho Persica conch pearl ring; Mizuki baroque pearl cuff; Nadine Aysoy Tsarina baroque pearl earrings.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - June 2018. To subscribe click here.

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