Often considered the most formal of pearl necklace lengths, the pearl collar measures roughly 12-13 inches and is formed of several linked strands of equal length wrapped closely about the neck. The pearl collar lends a regal flair to a strapless ensemble, but may pair quite well with boat neck, V-neck, or off-the-shoulder fashions. It is a necklace steeped in sultry sophistication, and the woman who wears a pearl collar confidently demands her audience.
We can think of no more renowned pearl collar than that of Diana, Princess of Wales. The centerpiece of the necklace is a deep oval sapphire encircled in diamonds, a gift of the Queen Mother on the occasion of Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles. The princess had the then-brooch altered to a seven-strand pearl collar and the necklace became one of her most iconic statement pieces.
This pearl collar was widely discussed the morning after a 1985 State dinner at the White House, hosted by President Ronald Reagan and Mrs. Reagan, when the princess donned the necklace and cut loose on the dance floor with actor John Travolta. But the pearl collar lustered most famously nine years later, amid altogether different circumstances.
Diana had visited the atelier of Christina Stambolian in London to select a few dresses for upcoming royal engagements. The princess then commissioned an ‘occasion dress’ to be sewn. Diana hesitatingly fancied the initial sketches. The exposed leg, the bare neckline, the height and weightlessness of the minitrain; it was a very un-princess-like look. And so the dress remained unworn for three years, until June 29, 1994.
That evening, Prince Charles appeared on television to acknowledge his affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles. The nation would, without doubt, turn to Diana for reaction. She rose to the occasion. Setting aside a demure Valentino ensemble she had selected for an event that same evening at the Serpentine Gallery, Diana brought out the ruched little black dress. She stepped out of the car in killer black stilettos and seven strands of pearls resting below a chin held brazenly high.
The next morning, the image of an indefatigable Diana (pictured above) graced the front page of every London newspaper. It was the second-most-photographed dress she ever wore, after her monumental wedding dress. The pearl collar accented the look perfectly, bridging her divide between the royal princess and the proud woman. The necklace is so quintessentially Diana that, unlike other jewels in her collection, the pearl collar has not been worn by a member of the royal family since.
The pearl collar is a bold and beautiful statement necklace. Get in touch with Spey to discuss adding a pearl collar, and a large measure of confidence, to your wardrobe. You never know whether the perfect occasion to wear it is just around the corner.