The most covetable pearl jewellery

Designs from classic to cutting-edge, mixed with gold and precious gems

Tom Binns Ultra Pearl silver plated Swarovski necklace, £2,125
Tom Binns Ultra Pearl silver plated Swarovski necklace, £2,125

The pearl necklace used to be a rite of passage. It was what doting fathers gave to their daughters for their 18th or 21st birthdays and it’s still hard to beat for its ability to add radiance to the face and cheer up a humdrum sweater. If you’re missing that classic piece, let me direct you to Pearl Magpie where you’ll come upon a huge range of strings (as well as rings, earrings and bracelets) of almost every sort of pearl – freshwater, Akoya, South Sea, creamy white, black – at very reasonable prices. There is, for instance, a three-string Akoya saltwater-pearl necklace with a white-gold and diamond clasp for £2,800.

Melanie Georgacopoulos gold and pearl ring, £2,700
Melanie Georgacopoulos gold and pearl ring, £2,700 | Image: Jeremy Johns Photography

For sheer prettiness, Esther Eyre and Rosantica stand out. Eyre combines pearls with precious stones, as seen in a double string of diamond beads and grey freshwater pearls (£3,900) and a baroque-pearl necklace with a huge amethyst and drop-pearl pendant (£11,500). Rosantica, meanwhile, makes bold freshwater-pearl necklaces, such as a four-strand design (£670, exclusive to Net‑a-Porter) with each pearl cradled in gold-dipped brass.

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Ruth Tomlinson has a delicious single‑pearl, gold and diamond pendant (£950) and another version (£240) in silver with antique-glass beads, while Yvonne Leon has some charming bee earrings (€2,125) with a pearl body and diamond-encrusted wings.

Rosantica gold-dipped freshwater pearl necklace, £670
Rosantica gold-dipped freshwater pearl necklace, £670

Fashion brands have also sashayed into the arena, from Dries van Noten with its dramatic faux-pearl and silvertone-hoop necklace (£540) to J Crew’s stocking-filler Captured necklace (£98) with each glass pearl encased in a burnished-brass cage. Then there are edgy pieces by young designers like Melanie Georgacopoulos, who set out to “challenge existing preconceptions of classic pearl jewellery”. She has collaborated with Japanese firm Tasaki on a fascinating collection of deconstructed freshwater-pearl pieces. Fortnum & Mason has a selection of her rings – one (£2,900) with a “cage” holding a cluster of pearls and another (£2,700) with a sliced pearl combined with gold – but see her website for a larger range, including a beautifully unusual necklace (£26,400) of cut pearls and gold.

Ruth Tomlinson gold, pearl and diamond pendant, £950
Ruth Tomlinson gold, pearl and diamond pendant, £950

For something truly spectacular, look to Tom Binns, whose oversized multistringed Swarovski-pearl necklace (£2,125) – part of his punk-inspired Ultra Pearl collection – is exclusive to Net-a-Porter, but other pieces are also available through Dover Street Market.

J Crew glass-pearl and burnished-brass Captured necklace, £98
J Crew glass-pearl and burnished-brass Captured necklace, £98

Finally, for a really modern take, there’s Lele Sadoughi, a Dallas-born designer inspired by industrial-era techniques. Her gold-plated Groove necklace ($370) is a striking and original way of combining the prettiest of glass pearls with the precision-cut look of gold.

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