Pearls – officially the world's oldest gem – have been worn as jewellery and embellishment for centuries. Revered as a luck-bearer (knights used to wear them on the battlefield for good fortune) and associated with decadence (apparently Cleopatra crushed a pearl into a glass of wine to prove she could throw the most lavish dinner party), pearls were a sartorial staple for the elite classes.
One of the most iconic portraits of Coco Chanel captured her wearing layered sautoirs of pearls, and she famously said: "A woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls". Karl Lagerfeld has kept her vision alive, with the brand's aesthetic remaining very much that of a lady who lunches. Chanel's SS14 collection highlighted the opulent stone, with oversized pearls on models' necks and wrists.
And let's not forget Princess Diana. Her staple jewellery style always featured the ornate stone, whether in a tiara or a pair of droplet earrings. While the resurgence in popularity of Diana's style may be responsible for the comeback of pearls, they're no longer reserved for the prim and proper.
Autumn Winter '17 saw pearls adorn all kinds of attire, from Ellery's oversized minimalist olive-green suit, to Ashley Williams' western-inspired mini dresses. Ryan Lo gave his cyber-pop models pearl collars, while Jour/Né teamed ruffled Bardot tops and loose trousers with layered pearl belts. Huishan Zhang presented what we predict will be the new racing stripe: vertical lines of pearls running down the front of trousers.
This season, pearls have been freed from the straight-laced and the stuffy, and are now worn with a heavy dose of contemporary cool. Click through to see our favourite pearl-embellished pieces to shop this autumn.