My friend R. will celebrate two milestones in the same month: an increasingly-welcome (now that she's absorbed the shock) job loss and her 60th birthday. She's feeling relief, sadness, excitement... and she's ready for a change.
Time to mark these milestones with new pearls! She'll be replacing a 5-6mm strand given years ago. (Note to men: Thinking of giving bitsy pearls in a status-brand box? She is not going to wear the box.) Did you know that for every 2mm of size increase, the size nearly doubles visually?
She has a budget–"$1000 tops"- and wants white, but beyond that said, "surprise me". My mission: find appealing pearls that will not jeopardize her mortgage payment.
R.'s a blonde beauty with dazzling turquoise eyes. Fine-boned and slender, she's likely to wear the new pearls to her golf club and the office. Her style is "lady": elegant tailored jackets, heels with everything and an immaculate manicure.
A double-strand white akoya bracelet with 14k clasp is R., and so versatile. I'd spring for the AAA quality so these 7 to 7.5 mm gems glow gloriously; price, $658 from Pearl Paradise.
R. vows her next job will entail less stress. Perhaps slightly casual pearls to match her lighter mood? This rope of lustrous freshwater 9mm off-round and 14mm coins is accented with gold rondels near the coins and, at 42 inches, will wrap several times around her neck. Price, $317 from Catherine Cardellini.
Also from Catherine Cardellini, in her Specials section, I found this 19-inch strand of large (10 to 11mm) white oval freshwater pearls strung on white silk and knotted. Yum. For only a few clams more than the price of soulless, shiny fakes (that's you, Talbot's), she could wear these charmers and have money left in her cookie jar. Price, $113. Cardinelli often strings her pieces with spacer beads, but I prefer the simplicity of knots.
A triple strand (17, 18 and 19 inches) is pearl plentitude, if you can take the weight. R.'s budget permits this freshwater triple of grade AA 8.5-9.5mms, $750 from Pearl Paradise. A classic statement piece for work or dressy casual– and at 60, a triple strand has the grandeur she would carry gracefully.
R. adores diamonds, so I want her to see this cultured pearl and diamond ring from Beladora II, price, $695. It's glam and femmy, like her. And sometimes the best necklace is a ring!
An utterly simple and smart piece, this South Sea 12mm pearl pendant on a white (shown) or yellow gold chain will layer or look chic alone.
Price, $829 from Pearls of Joy. Smaller sizes are available but for your 60th, splash out on the big pearl.
If R. admires the Tin Cup style, she could wear 12-14mm South Seas (AA grade) in a more casual (and affordable) way. This necklace is from The Pearl Outlet, and just fits under the budget at $995. I especially like that it's a generous seven (not five) pearls, uses heavy gold chain and is 18 inches.
White pearls have their own allure; look for character instead of stiff perfection. Allow the tiniest dent or ripple that shows these gems are organic; reject discoloured patches, rings or uneven nacre.
But most of all, whites need overtones (the slight tinge of rose, silver or (more rarely) green or gold on the surface), and good design to escape banality. (Shown, pearl with rose overtone.)
Dear R., whatever your choice, the birthday pearls will whisper that you are a treasure, along with your pearls.