Pearls have been associated with beauty, wealth, and social status since ancient Greek and Roman times. Keeping in tune with this overtone, modern celebrities seem to be as fond of the gem as the golden starlets of Old Hollywood were before them. In this article, we will explore the longstanding love affair between famous women and pearls, and its reasons for existing.
Celebrities and Their Pearls
Although the rich and famous have been known to rock the gem for centuries now, celebrities’ love affair with pearls officially began during the Golden Age of Hollywood, thanks to iconic leading ladies such as Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, or Lauren Bacall. Them, as well as many more, popularized what we now recognize as silver screen starlet glamour.
But while Marilyn Monroe might have been more of a diamond girl herself, American actress Lauren Bacall is certainly. one of the most notorious images that come to mind when we think about famous women adorning themselves with pearls. This is due to her signature sultry look, which combined masculine suits or feline gowns with statement pearl chokers.
Other notable examples include Audrey Hepburn’s memorable pearl-adorned look in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, or the personal aesthetic of former actress turned Monaco royalty Grace Kelly. However, these women didn’t invent the style. They merely brought it into the limelight by taking cues from the fashion world.
French designer Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel is the woman who invented pearls as the accessory we know them to be today. The masculine suits, the little black dresses, the layered strands of pearls: it was all her. Founder of the fashion house of the same name, Coco Chanel’s unique style inspired generations after generations of starlets.
Pearls Then and Now
Pearls are still a trademark element for Chanel pieces to this day. Many more famous brands have adopted them, and it can all be credited to Coco’s bold and fearless approach to style. Even though the gem got a bad reputation for a while as being outdated, a relic of a forgotten world, celebrities never lost their love for it.
Actresses and artists of the modern age have embraced pearls as part of their accessory wardrobe without thinking twice. This is why we can see stunning women such as Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, Keira Knightley, Katy Perry, Beyoncé, or Rihanna wearing them in various ways on red carpets all around the world.
Women in positions of political power are no strangers to pearls. Most recently, former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama has become known for wearing them, as did Kate Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge. Thus, it is more than obvious that the famous ladies of the world will never stop wearing their pearls. But why is that? Let’s find out.
Why Do They Love Them?
The secret behind the longstanding affair between pearls and celebrities is not that much of a secret, actually. According to the Gemological Institute of America, or GIA for short, the gem of the ocean has been worshipped throughout history by royalty and common folk alike. Shortly after its most likely accidental discovery, mankind was already revering its value.
Over the centuries, female monarchs across all continents adorned themselves in pearls. Queen Cleopatra notoriously venerated them, the Spanish Royal Family had a rather expensive piece in their collection of Crown Jewels, and Queen Elizabeth I of the United Kingdom was seldom painted without a strand around her neck.
However, pearls wouldn’t have become the symbol of glamour they are now considered if it weren’t for Japanese farmers who kickstarted the revolution of cultured pearls. These were a lot more affordable, which quickly brought them into the mainstream more than ever before. And yet again, Coco Chanel played an important part in this.
She was the poster girl of mixing bling. She wore layered strands of both freshwater and cultured pearls, and sometimes fake ones as well. In this way, she unintentionally dispelled the taboo around the gem, taking it from a rigid symbol of royal status and wealth to more so a type of fashion accessory denoting style over anything else.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to our recent history, wearing pearls as a symbol of elegance and style began with the Golden Age of Hollywood. However, one woman in the fashion world pioneered the look before the 1960s, and that woman as Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. Thanks to her flair for accessorizing, as well as the never-ending royal fascination for the jewel, pearls have remained a favorite among modern celebrities as well.