Pearls are getting bigger and brighter, with larger specimens being placed in bejewelled settings. The fine jewellery scene’s love affair with colour also seems to have made an impact on the crop of pearl pieces. The rich golden variant of the South Sea pearl appears in many high-end pieces, while white freshwater pearl items are infused with colour using precious and semi-precious gemstones. This year sees the continued renaissance in pearl jewellery in the updated designs that gamely rift on the classic string of pearls look.

Falling in line with the trend to embrace colour in fine-jewellery pieces, Mikimoto pairs its white Akoya cultured pearls with a cascade of fire opal, garnet and diamond in its new multistrand lariat necklace, Passion Fire.The five rows of white Akoya pearls loop around the wearer’s neck to intersect with a captivating arrangement comprising a 60.56ct fire opal, 14.52ct garnet, and more than 10ct of diamonds set in 18ct white gold. The stones create a splash of colour and form the centrepiece to the necklace. The beauty of the fire opals and garnets is highlighted by the quiet glow of the pearls against which they are set.

The sheer number of Akoya pearls in the Mikimoto piece is breathtaking since they belie the difficulty in assembling that many pearls of the same size, shape, shade, shine, and surface texture in one piece of jewellery. A simple string of just 20 pearls, roughly 18mm in size, is difficult enough to amass. Industry experts say that even among cultured pearls, every harvest might yield only six of such strings of pearls.

This is highlighted in Jewelmer’s April unveiling of its Palawan strand. This string of pearls celebrates the glorious golden hue of the South Sea pearl. It took the company
37 years to gather all 35 pearls for this golden dream. And with the pearl size 16mm to 18mm, The Palawan Strand is an impressive accomplishment.

Mikimoto launches “The Pearl Necklace” book in Hong Kong:

Given the difficulty of getting large, flawlessly round and smooth pearls of a high lustre, it is no wonder there has been a surge of interest in semi-baroque and baroque pearls. Mikimoto’s Flora necklace and earring set features large, baroque golden South Sea cultured pearls alongside more than 110ct worth of diamonds set in 18ct white gold. The 17.5mm golden ovoid gemstones punctuate the dense filigree of glistening diamonds to create careful perches the observer’s eye can land on to take in the grandeur of the necklace.

Another stunning design from Mikimoto is the Baroque Golden South Sea Cultured Pearl Pavé Diamond Vine Necklace. This sumptuous revision of the classic string of pearls wraps each golden gemstone, roughly 13mm to 16mm in size, in tendrils of 18ct yellow gold dotted with pavé diamonds meant to simulate vines. The piece is a classic design even as the intricate metalwork and the use of baroque pearls gives it a modern twist.

The baroque pearl is not just a substitute for the perfectly spherical pearl. The unusual shapes create opportunities for one-of-a-kind flora and fauna brooches and pendants that draw inspiration from the pearl’s natural shape. Part of Jewelmer Joaillerie’s spring/summer 2017 collections is a baroque pearl brooch with coloured gemstones from the Quetzal Collection. This brooch is shaped like a bird of paradise and meant to represent freedom and a sense of flight. Similarly, the Mikimoto Hyacynthia Necklace culminates in a 22mm baroque South Sea cultured pearl pendant dressed in tanzanite and pink sapphire in order to emulate the colours and silhouette of spring’s Hyacinth.

It is understandable if the radically irregular shape of the baroque pearl makes some buyers nervous. Another way to circumvent the constricting standards of constructing a string of pearls of complete uniform size, shine, colour and shape is by incorporating asymmetry into the design of the piece. Jewelmer Joaillerie’s other Spring/Summer 2017 Collection, Tropics, centres on an exuberant Golden South Sea Pearl Necklace.The asymmetrical distribution of flowers of different sizes with a golden South Sea pearl at the centre of each bloom helps the observer to overlook that the pearls are of varying sizes.

For the less adventurous, there is Cartier’s Agrafe Necklace. Mostly continuing with the traditional look of the pearl necklace, Cartier has made the pearl more fashionable in its Agrafe line by pairing it with a diamond-encrusted signature clasp. The Agrafe clasp is said to be inspired by the fastenings of the corset that once defined the Parisian silhouette.

The Agrafe necklace made with 18ct white gold, freshwater pearls and 122 brilliant-cut diamonds totalling 1.02ct combines the classic multistrand pearl necklace with a special clasp design. The large bejewelled clasp creates a delightful break in the continuous strand of luminescent pearls. Whether one chooses the shorter edition worn close around the wearer’s neck, or the longer version, it is the Agrafe clasp that adds pizzazz to the piece.

Rare and beautiful, pearls are man’s oldest gemstones. Requiring only a proper setting, the miracle of nature is that the pearl can be mounted with need of neither cut nor polish to bring out the gemstone’s natural shine. Prized for its natural beauty and rarity, it is loved for the individuality of its often-irregular shape, and its capacity for uniformity. While the simplicity of a string of pearls will continue to be a timeless look, modern tastes have since expanded the manner in which pearls can be appreciated.