Why people clutch pearls – a guide

By  | April 14, 2015 |  Comments | Filed under: Glitter & Fashion

You know that phrase “pearl-clutching” when old biddies get in a twist over kids doing MyFace or something? I never thought about why a person in the middle of a crisis or moment of worry would grab their pearls. Now that I’m obsessed with pearls myself, I get it. It’s because pearls are comforting. They’re not like any other gem or article of clothing. Pearls are soft, warm, illuminating, alive. Yes, healing – like a big ole aspirin and pancake breakfast around your neck.

Fussy babies and kids with sensory processing disorders sometimes like to lay under compression blankets. They’re just weighted blankets that induce serenity under their unobtrusive mass. The satisfying heft of a genuine pearl necklace has the same idea – a reassuring security blanket laying on your skin. I’d sit in a bath tub of pearls if I could afford it. They’re just so touchable, I can’t keep my hands off them. I wouldn’t even care if they got stuck in my nethers!

How strands of pearls came to be things old ladies wear and thus “pearl clutching” something uptight women do is beyond me. Wearing pearls is the opposite of that. On the contrary, there’s nothing buttoned-up about wearing pearls at all. Pearls are from the sea. They are a natural, organic gem that softly reassures you during times of stress. If anything, pearls should be around the neck of every surfer and sea lover in town.

So, what kind of pearls should you get?

Add-a-pearl: My friend Laura got me into this, so each of my girls got an Add-a-Pearl necklace for Easter this year. The idea is you start them out with a few pearls (maybe a pearl for every year of their age) and then “add a pearl” for every special occasion. You’ll have to really get into it because a finished necklace requires 75 pearls. Either the Easter bunny at your house has to live 110 years, or you better give a pearl for every Boxing Day and President’s Day throughout childhood. Bring the grandparents in. Give pearls instead of dollars for teeth, you wad of cash, you.

Or . . . you could just buy them a darling starter necklace and call it a day. You don’t have to ever actually add any more pearls to an Add-a-Pearl. Irony!

Mikimoto – This is thee reigning supreme mackdaddy of all pearl jewelers. Strands go for like $12,000 at the Beverly Hills Mikimoto boutique, which is like a museum. So why am I even bring this up since I’m the cheapskate who is currently wearing a shirt I bought in high school instead of real pajamas? Because you can get Mikimoto on Ebay for a wee fraction. Now. You will need to think outside the box – like, an estate strand that has probably been clutched through a few wars.

Pearls are more durable than they are given credit for, so vintage strands can be in great shape. Besides, pearls are good heirlooms – aren’t they supposed to get old anyway?

To make sure it’s a real Mikimoto, look for an “M” engraved on the back of the clasp, which should also have  a small pearl embedded on the front. If an auction doesn’t show a clasp, they are lying liars who lie that it’s real Mikimoto.

The other way to get Mikimoto pearls is to go to Kay Jewelers or other chain establishments and look for Sea Magic or Blue Lagoon. Those are both Mikimoto lines that capture that market without harming the Mikimoto luxury brand. It’s like Volkswagon and Porsche. (Fun fact – they use pieces of Lamborghini  engines in certain VW models, like the Jetta. Yup – that 2.5 liter 5-cylinder is half of the Lamborghini V10. The more you know!) Back to pearls. A strand like that might run you $400, obviously less on eBay.

Any other brand – Who needs a crazy expensive strand of pearls when there are pearl necklaces at seriously every price point? You can get a $10 cultured pearl strand from China on the internet and guess what? It’s still a pearl. It still came from the sea, that sea just happened to be Chinese where things cost less and the poor little oysters were all huddled together sharing a tight friendship.

You can also go to CostCo or raid your granny’s jewelry drawer. Buy them on Overstock. Get them in pink. Buy an 80-inch strand   that hangs to your waist. There are no rules with pearls and it does not matter. All you need is a strand of silky, weighty pearls around your neck and you are dressed, girlfriend. Even in your PJs.

I am happy to answer any questions I can in the comments!

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