If you do not want to spend another dime, are indecisive about restyling, or made a vow to never touch Aunt Geraldine's pearls, here are five ideas that do not involve altering the strand.
My most classic pearls: 10mm Chinese freshwaters bought 15 years ago from a beloved girlfriend who was a second-generation gem dealer and goddaughter of Harry Winston's, talk about pedigree. Sentiment has kept me from restyling them.
So, how to wear classic, round whites so they're not matronly? I grabbed some shots to show you some easy options.
1. With chains and/or pendant
Here, the "base pearls" with a two gold chains, a substantial link and a fine ball chain with pendant (Diane von Furstenberg for H. Stern). Worn with a French lace t-shirt; sometimes escaping matronly involves thinking of what's worn with the pearls.
2. With coloured beads
The pearls with an Edwardian coral necklace. Mixing any coloured beads with your whites leavens them. I like a smaller size, for the contrast and better drape; the pendant hangs below the pearls.
3. Pinned: Three versions
I've pinned my mother's enameled dragonfly brooch to the strand.
If you have very fine pearls, this is not something to do as a habit, because frequent wear would abrade the pearls where the pin rubs them. But if they have already had a long, happy life, and show some wear, why not? (For fine pearls, have the pin made into a pendant and attached by a jeweler.)
Most pearl enhancers are staid; they make the pearls even stiffer, like spraying the heck out of an outdated coiffure. You can find much more interesting options in the world of pins.
To use a brooch as shown in the photo, the its clasp must be long enough, so that the bar of the clasp fits between the pearls (where the knots are) and fastens snugly. Check that the clasp closes securely, too, and have it replaced if not.
You can also use a pin as a pendant; any pin with a vertical clasp will work. I tried an antique bee.
You could also buy a pendant and use the pearls as the "chain"; for more examples, see this post. This is a felicitous route if your pearls are a small-sized, graduated strand.
I tried the base pearls mixed with a long rope of faceted jet beads, and attached an Art Deco bar pin to three rows, at one side. The pin also looks good worn vertically at the center of the base pearls as a pendant.
4. Twisted sister
Today's finale: the Christine Lagarde move, with the pearls wound into an Hermès pochette. (Everybody wants to try that, since we saw the photo.)
Hint: Put on the scarf first, then thread the pearls through. I liked this; a fun, light change. Maybe it will even improve my French!
Now it's time (well, at least for me, it's 6 pm.) to have a nice restorative glass of wine, and feel deeply satisfied that those lightly-worn pearls got a day out.
Please come back to the Passage on Thursday, for more ideas for the necklace everybody seems to own, but not wear.