Pearls Are Undergoing a Fashion-Fuelled Revival

Among jewellery’s most historic and traditional gems, the pearl is undergoing something of a revival, channelling the times as a symbol of empowerment and a versatile tool for self-expression.

“Pearls are resonating with the new generation of power women who are determined to make it big in the world, and go all the way up the ladder of success,” says Michael Hakimian, CEO of the pearl house Yoko London. “They work hard and play hard.”

Interest in pearls has “grown enormously” in the last four to five years, he adds, especially with a younger clientele. Customers are self-gifting as well as self-styling pearls – mixing and layering them with other jewellery, like chains and beads. “This generation are discovering pearls for themselves. They like to experiment and wear pearls in different ways,” says Hakimian.

On the Runway

Fashion and celebrities have played a role in driving interest for the material, which was previously seen as a somewhat stuffy indicator of country-club style. “Pop culture and fashion seem to sync when it comes to pearls,” says Molly Haylor, style director at Grazia UK, who cites 2012 as a seminal moment. Rihanna rocked up at the Victoria’s Secret fashion show donning a vintage pearl choker-and-sunglasses combo from Chanel – a byword for pearls in fashion. That same year Simone Rocha debuted costume pearls on the collars and sleeves of her designs. “It felt like a pearl awakening,” recalls Haylor.

Since then, Rocha has made pearls a signature, launching her eye-catching “Pearl Egg” bag, mixing them with crystals and beads and branching out into larger unusually-shaped pearls. This year, Miu Miu’s sent models down the runway in dainty, single strands of pearls thrown casually over jackets and shirts at its fall-winter show, while Dior’s cruise collection shown in Scotland featured pearl embellished collars in an allusion to Mary Queen of Scots.

Pearl jewellery and embellishments on the runway at Dior's cruise 2025 collection by Maria Grazia Chiuri.
Pearl jewellery and embellishments on the runway at Dior’s cruise 2025 collection by Maria Grazia Chiuri.

Fashion’s exploration of pearls has trickled into fine jewellery, where designers increasingly experimenting with pearls are using new shapes and silhouettes. The Danish jeweller Sophie Bille Brahe credits a growing interest in pearls to customers seeking a spin on this “eternal classic,” she says. Her Peggy pearl necklace with graduating sized pearls is a best seller, as are her Botticelli pearl earrings with a cluster of different sized pearls.

Modernising the Material

Yoko London is finding that mixing materials – in the vein of Rocha’s fashion – is especially popular. The emphasis is on eye-catching design. Cue a Cleopatra ring that sets a pearl among of swirl of onyx and diamonds, or a floral creation that suspends flowers crafted in turquoise with mother of pearl, topped with a rose gold pearl.

And at the Cannes Film Festival last month, the actress Michelle Yeoh wore a Mikimoto high jewellery necklace that paired a half strand of pearls offset by an array of diamonds on the other side, and which Yeoh complemented with a matching oversized pearl ring.

When Dover Street Market opened its Paris outpost in May, pearls from the retailer’s owner Comme des Garçons’ collab with Mikimoto were front-and-centre: strands of pearls interspersed with silver teeth and paperclips were displayed in antique cages.

Elsewhere, setting pearls in yellow gold – rather than the traditional tone-on-tone white gold – has helped to give the material a fresh, warmer energy. Goossens, the costume jewellery line owned by Chanel, has set graduating rows of pearls in gleaming yellow-gold dipped rings and earrings, or lined a chic hair slider with them.

"Botticelli" earrings by London jeweller Sophie Bille Brahe.
“Botticelli” earrings by London jeweller Sophie Bille Brahe.

Elsewhere, mixing pearl species in the same jewel “creates curiosity and desire,” finds Hakimian. “It shows that the woman has her own sense of style – her own way of dressing and accessorising.” Yoko’s Baroque pearl earrings mix four types of pearls in varying shapes and tones, set among a cluster of diamonds.

There is a growing “love for not-perfect round shapes and individuality”, observes Grazia’s Haylor. Unsurprisingly, baroque pearls and their organic, natural forms are finding favour. The Greek fine jewellery brand Lito’s latest collection Naturalia is themed entirely around baroque pearls, which swing from tiny gold loops in earrings and chained necklaces, or rakishly set askew in rings and pendants.

Meanwhile, transformability and versatility are trends being seen across jewellery, as clients seek more bang for their buck. It’s also making jewellery feel more wearable for every day, another key trend. Compared to the likes of rubies or diamonds, pearls lend themselves to a more casual look, while the classic strand of pearls can be styled in multiple ways. “It can be twisted, worn long or short, doubled up or worn as a choker,” says Hakimian. “The same necklace gives you six or seven different looks at once, depending on the occasion.” Elsewhere, Sophie Keegan’s Cercle earrings with a grey diamond and off-beat shaped South Sea pearl can be worn alone as diamond studs or as pearl drops.

Men of Pearl

Pearls are also gaining ground among men, a market that jewellers – from the storied Place Vendôme maisons to independent designers – all have their eye on.

Ever since Harry Styles wore a single pearl earring to the Met Gala in 2019 – and continued to wear a pearl necklace on a coffee run – “social media went into a deep dive into the man’s historic love affair with pearls,” recalls Haylor. Inexpensive costume pearls became a staple of TikTok skater-boy aesthetics — a look that’s since been elevated to real pearls by the likes of the top Japanese pearl houses, Mikimoto and Tasaki. This month’s Vogue Man Hong Kong featured the actor Jared Leto photographed in several Mikimoto pieces, including pearl necklaces and brooches. Louis Vuitton menswear creative director Pharrell Williams included pearl-embellished sunglasses and beanies in his debut collection last year — enshrining the material as a men’s wardrobe staple at luxury’s biggest brand.

“There’s certainly something that’s happening in pop culture right now with pearls – and I genuinely think that it’s a timeless material that’s going to stay current,” said Thakoon Panichgul, Tasaki’s creative director. He says that Tasaki, too, has seen more men flocking to pearls from studs to strands.

Thai-American fashion designer Panichgul has helped turn Tasaki into a byword for subverting the classic pearl into edgy designs – like the Danger collection that studs pearls with punk-like horns and fangs. Recent campaigns placed the Danger pearl necklaces, rings and daring single earcuffs on men, while at the Cannes Film Festival, filmmaker Xavier Dolan donned a pair of Danger horn pearl earrings on the red carpet. For its 70th anniversary, the house has pushed that brief further, collaborating with the likes of Japanese brands Asics and EYEVAN on bejewelled trainers and eyewear, respectively. The company has released Asics GT-2160 trainers with detachable pearl jewels, and a daring pair of pearl-rimmed, cat-eye sunglasses studded with gold thorns.

Men modelled pearl necklaces and ear cuffs in a Tasaki campaign by creative director Thakoon Panichgul.
Men modelled pearl necklaces and ear cuffs in a Tasaki campaign by creative director Thakoon Panichgul. (Tasaki)

Supply Chain Pressure

With fashion houses looking to embellish their collections and more jewellers experimenting with pearls, demand for the material has rapidly grown.

This is putting pressure on an already narrowing supply chain for pearls, says Tasaki’s Toshikazu Tajima. Pearl farming is over a century old and typically passed down the generations, but in recent years farms have been closing as the next generation seek new professions.

That’s caused auction prices for Akoya and South Sea pearls to jump 50 percent annually for the last four years, says Tajima. Yoko London’s Hakimian also pointed to a “tremendous shortage of stock” in the last two years, exacerbated by “incredible demand” from China.

Tajima, however, believes the shortage could be temporary as fashion’s love affair with pearls is sure to eventually wane, and as farms push production back up to pre-pandemic levels. (Key technicians had been unable to travel to South Sea farms due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, pinching supply.)

With men jumping on the pearl bandwagon and more contemporary jewellers warming up to the possibilities offered by its organic forms—pearls are set to continue to be an object of desire, a classic jewel that’s ever-evolving with the times.

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