It’s about time the classic pearl necklace gets a modern makeover. For the longest time, the pearl necklace is seen as a staple in every jewellery box but never modern enough for wearing out today.
The way pearl jewellery is designed has been rather static through the ages. Lengths of luscious white gems were the accessories of choice amongst members of nobility since ancient times. Unlike diamonds and other precious stones, this naturally occurring gem carries a unique luminescence and hue — a quality that’s still very desirable in jewellery. Yet, there’s a craving for something fresher.
With the advent of cultured pearls, which also means more mass production of the gem, jewellery studios are emboldened with renewed creativity. More are thinking outside of archetypal styles to remake a timeless classic. Today, contemporary jewellery brands are working with new techniques and giving the pearl a new lease of life.

1
Carrie K

Carrie K’s Pearl Bar collection revolves around a seemingly traditional cluster of pearls. But, in place of a lobster clasp, each iridescent strand is accompanied by a specially-designed ball-and-socket clasp. This little mechanism allows the wearer to style the pearl necklace is a variety of ways. For instance, two pearl strands can be strung up together for a more elaborate accessory or linked with chains, semi-precious gems and bedazzled clips for that edgy Carrie K look. Find out more about the Pearl Bar collection here.

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2
Choo Yilin

While jade is the gem of choice for Choo Yilin, the local jeweller has also recently weaved in other gems prominently into her designs such as spinels and pearls. In her latest collection, A Vintage Honeymoon, Choo finds inspiration in over-the-top Art Deco jewellery like heavily beaded sautoir necklaces. Her Pearl Sautoir Necklace is a minimalist take on these over-the-top pieces, featuring freshwater pearls ‘floating’ on a delicate rose gold chain. It’s an understated design, appropriate for everyday wear. The necklace can be worn four ways, as a double loop or as a lariat. Find out more about the collection here.

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3
Mikimoto

Mikimoto has some of the best cultured pearls in its arsenal, and its boutiques often feature these quality gems in archetypal chokers and strands. But in its high jewellery collection, the Japanese jewellery brand shows off its creativity in leaps and bounds. Take, for instance, cascading layers of pearls paired in a stunning ombre of cream white to gold. We’ve taken a liking to this contemporary looped necklace from their latest works, which sees a series of knotted Akoya pearls interspersed with diamond studs. The diamond-embellished buckle that holds the pearls together is adjustable, allowing the piece to be transformed from choker to bracelet.

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4
Sophie Bille Brahe

Denmark-based jeweller Sophie Bille Brahe’s oeuvre primarily runs on diamonds and pearls. Her pearl collection is one that sees classical sensibilities while still tip-toeing into the contemporary. The usual pearl necklace is reinterpreted as an unusual graduation of beads, from seed pearls to 8mm lustrous gems. Brahe also takes inspirations from Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli’s paintings in her pieces, which are visualised as baubles of pearl clusters reminiscent of sea foam. This lariat tie neckpiece (a Net-a-Porter exclusive) here is an elegant sum-up of her designs so far.

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5
Mizuki

Not all pearls are round, and Mizuki’s collections are proud ambassadors of these natural gems of all shapes and sizes. Flat petal pearls, pinned together by small diamonds, are the highlight of one simple necklace. In another, Mizuki offers an oddly-shaped Baroque pearl dipped in precious gold. Those who prefer the ‘perfectly-shaped’ ones should also consider this sultry choker, which sees a string of pearls plunging down the neckline.

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Jasmine Tay
Senior Writer
Jasmine Tay is the dining, culture and jewellery writer. She makes fine silver jewellery and causes mini-explosions in the kitchen when she can't afford fancy dinners. Sometimes she tells people what she thinks about art, and binges on the music of Danzig when they don’t agree.