Pearls have always been a classic and elegant choice; their rich luster softly shining across the centuries. From generation to generation, women have handed down pearls to their daughters, granddaughters, goddaughters, and nieces. Lucky are they who have been gifted family heirloom pearls. Still others come across vintage pearls in antique and estate sales. So blessed with a treasured trove of heirloom pearls, what’s a modern woman to do? Put the pearls to work for your style.
Integrating your mother’s or grandmother’s pearls into your wardrobe is an excellent way of preserving the cherished moments you shared together, but you’re not always at liberty to choose which pearls you are given. Many women find themselves in a predicament: how do you style and update heirloom pearls and pearl jewelry? The first step is simple. Are you looking to clean and refurbish the piece, or are you looking for an altogether new look?
Giving heirloom pearls new life is an excellent tribute to a quality piece of jewelry. A professional jeweler can gently clean away the years of grime from a pearl’s surface and reveal some of its original luster. For strands, restringing is a smart decision. This keeps the pearls securely together and prevents losing pearls over brittle older silk. Adding a modern clasp is another great way of introducing your own style into the strand or upping the oomph, without compromising the integrity of the original piece.
If an altogether new look is what you’re going for, jewelers may take select pearls and fashion them into any number of designs. Rarely wear bracelets? Consider taking an heirloom strand and fashioning a pearl pendant, earring, and ring set. Vintage strands could be braided together with new ones, creating a statement necklace or collar. Adding diamonds or other precious stones is another excellent way of bringing in your own individuality to the piece. If an entirely rebuilt piece sounds too extreme, consider adding a brooch or fascinator to the strand for a touch of sparkle.
The challenge of updating heirloom pearls is that not every vintage necklace is in pristine condition. Often, several pearls may need to be replaced or an entire setting reworked for strength. The beauty of the process is in the preservation of a memory. Just remember: one day you may be in a position to pass along some pearls of your own. Take care to keep them well and generations to come will have a piece of you close to their heart.