Pearls have always been a classic, but up until recently, their appeal hasn’t extended far beyond costumes and gifts for our nans. In 2021, they’ve become a staple of the craftcore aesthetic, a movement that has seen Gen Z reviving homemade beaded jewellery and tech accessories that radiate childhood nostalgia and joy.
Of course, we can’t talk about the reign of pearl jewellery without giving a nod to the boys bringing it back. Stars like A$AP Rocky, Harry Styles and Pharrell have pioneered the return of the string of pearls, giving it a modern revamp when layered with other loud, kitschy pieces of jewellery. Of course, they can't get all the praise, since the craftcore beading trend that took over last year definitely paved the way for its bigger sister, pearlcore, to now take centre stage.
A natural gemstone created by oysters, pearls are the result of irritants making their way into a mollusc (whether manufactured or naturally occurring). From there the mollusc secretes layers and layers of fluid to coat the irritant until a solid pearl is formed, taking anywhere from six months to five years to do so.
With their rarity and intricate manufacturing, it’s no wonder they have a long-standing place in fashion. In fact, for a bit of history, the first documented use of them dates back to 5th Century BC when a fragment was found in the sarcophagus of a Persian princess. Roman ruler Julius Caesar once even famously passed a law in the first century BC that pearls were to be exclusively worn by the ruling class.
A century after it was the jewellery of nobles, it became the symbol of the sophisticated woman thanks to Coco Chanel and her indelible influence. From there it died down, only to be resurrected by the likes of designer houses like Lanvin, before finding its way into the collections of Sonya Rykiel and Celine. Now, you'll regularly find pearls on red carpets, with MGK making the case for face pearls at the 2021 VMAS. With a long and sordid history, the pearl still manages to captivate us. And even now still has the power to inject a sense of sophistication into any outfit.
As Pinterest notes, in 2022, people of all ages will embrace pearl accents in their homes, in their jewellery boxes and even as nail art. And in beauty, though we’ve seen the steady rise of statement pearl looks on runways, the upcoming year will see this trend take to the streets. Expect to see a surge in teeny pearls placed carefully around the eyes, three-dimensional nail art and iridescent hairpieces.
Arguably the best part about pearls is that they don't demand a particular style to work. Whether you're a minimalist, maximalist or skew somewhere in between, there's a pearlcore aesthetic for you. So with the new year right around the corner, we're leaning right into it all and stocking up on the goodness these natural phenomenons have to offer.