Pearl talk with Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry

Model Jacie Scott wears a Ramy Brook black dress from Lukka ($425), an ombré pearl necklace from Lee Michaels ($12,500), and diamond and black pearl earrings from Lee Michaels ($10,500). Photos by Jordan Hefler.

What’s a 30th anniversary without pearls?

From icons like Coco Channel to Jackie Kennedy, pearls are always appreciated. But why? How do you find the pearl best for you? For some pearls of wisdom, we spoke with Lee Michaels’ Jack Coote, from the store’s Bocage location.

“Pearls exude timeless, natural beauty and eternal classiness by making every woman look her sophisticated best,” says Coote.

Growing year by year, layer by layer, pearls represent the beauty of 30th anniversaries. As relationships grow deeper, their inner beauty is revealed, says Coote.

Though over the past 20 years, the style of pearls have changed, their symbolic meaning and prevalence in fashion remains unyielding.

“Pearls are always in style and enhance every fashion clothes style, no matter what culture,” says Coote. South Sea, Tahitian and freshwater styles have grown in popularity. Opposed to the past, longer lengths styles have gained popularity due to their versatility. With lengths of 36 inches, or longer, pearls can be worn in long, knotted lariat styles or doubled up and worn as a choker, Coote suggests.

Model Jacie Scott wears an Alexis top ($484) and Alexis pearl shorts ($385) from Chatta Box Boutique, along with a long strand of Mikimoto pearls ($60,000), diamond and pearl earrings ($10,500), and a double pearl bracelet ($26,500), all from Lee Michaels.

So what do you look for when pearl shopping? Seven factors: size, shape, color, luster, surface quality, nacre quality, and—for jewelry with two or more pearls—matching, according to the Gemological Institute of America.

“Of the seven pearl value factors, luster might be the most important,” says Coote. “Luster is what gives a natural or cultured pearl its unique beauty.” The higher the luster, the more valuable the pearl.

If you do not consider yourself a jewelry connoisseur, don’t fret; most people aren’t. That’s what fine jewelry stores are for.

“It is important to visit a fine jewelry store with knowledgeable sales professionals who can explain pearl quality,” Coote says, “and how to identify the various types of pearls, including Akoya, South Sea, Tahitian and freshwater.”


See more pearls from local jewelers in the Style section of inRegister’s September issue, on newsstands now.

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