From monarch parures to bridal ensembles, even in pop music hits (the Prince 1991 album), “diamonds and pearls” have always had a mutually beneficial relationship, a long and romantic love story, a history of enduring elegance, cultural significance, and fashion timelessness. Like a wink and a smile, these precious gems work well together, complementing each other effortlessly. As Peggy Grosz, Senior Vice President and Creative Director at Assael suggests, “Luster and brilliance are completely different and can create dimension when combined. The luster of pearls is made more obvious next to the brilliance of diamonds and vice versa. Together, they are elegant in a way that no two other gems are.” Here, we will chat in detail with Grosz about this renowned pairing and take a look at some refined pearl and diamond designs … from elevated classics and bridal looks to special occasion styles.
Pearls and diamonds are currently trending. The Pearl Revolution has been a major force in fashion for the last few years, with pearls adorning many ready-to-wear runway collections. Men have also joined the ranks of pearl connoisseurs with male celebrities and sports figures alike donning strands of pearls and pearl stud earrings. Now, the movement continues with pearls with diamonds becoming commonplace. According to Grosz, “It was inevitable. The fashion ‘pendulum’ swings from one extreme to the other. Pearls with diamonds have enjoyed many long periods of popularity, and we were bound to see the duo rise in popularity again. Additionally, the two play off each other beautifully, one with a softer, understated glow, the other with scintillation and brilliance.”
Pearl jewelry that is accented with diamonds creates everyday elegance. It’s a step above the classic pearl strand or stud earring. Pearl and diamond earrings, for example, add an exciting hint of refinement to favorite ensembles like sweater sets, suits, and dresses. The luster and brilliance both reflect their radiance upon the skin and heighten the overall look with a whisper of finesse, as opposed to a shout. Contemporary styles like the Sean Gilson for Assael Rivière earrings are modern classics that can easily be worn with an heirloom pearl necklace or all by themselves.
When asked why pearls and diamonds are seemingly always appropriate, Grosz explains, “Throughout history, royalty, celebrities, and fashion connoisseurs have chosen pearls with diamonds because of the beauty, freshness, and ‘play’ that the two gems have when worn together.” Their shapes and textures are a match made in heaven. The roundness of pearls is accentuated by the angular or geometric shapes of diamonds; while the facets of diamonds stand out next to the smooth, luminous surfaces of most fine pearls.
Fashion headlines are also touting the return of the brooch for Fall/Winter 2023-24, and a distinctive pearl and diamond brooch can be the perfect addition to the many power suits and wide shouldered blazers populating current collections at Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Balmain, Chloé, Givenchy, and more.
Short and choker-length pearl and diamond necklaces also create a sense of regal drama, especially with the prevalence of neutrals in “quiet luxury” or “stealth wealth” styling. It’s a way to dress up without overdoing it. The Floating Bubble necklace by Sean Gilson for Assael lies just above the collarbone, for example, with round South Sea cultured pearls floating amid a sprinkling of diamonds. It becomes a chic new classic that turns heads and deserves a position of honor in a pearl lover’s wardrobe.
According to a recent article in The New York Times, “brides – and – grooms are clamoring to incorporate pearls into their wedding looks in modern ways.” Pearls add the sense of tradition that today’s brides want, while new designs offer contemporary styling that feels novel, fun, and heightened. Grosz explains, “Brides traditionally wear white, so white pearls are, and always have been, a natural fit. Diamonds elevate a finished pearl piece, speaking to the special nature of a wedding ceremony.”
Sheer bodices, plunging necklines, and exposed corsets are creating a sensuous tone for Spring/Summer 2023 bridal looks, “now updated to be less boudoir and more bridal chic” (The New York Times). Accessorizing these gowns with pearls and diamonds offers a demure touch to balance the boldness with a trace of tradition. Pearl drop earrings with diamonds are perfect for many of the embellished gowns, capes, boleros, lacey tops, bridal pantsuits, and column or sheath silhouettes that are trending in bridal.
Convertible styles are also nice for brides as they can be changed up from the ceremony to the reception or used later for other occasions and/or daily wear. The Bubble Pearl and Diamond Tiara by Sean Gilson for Assael is a great example. This tiara creates a crowning glory for a bridal gown but easily converts into a choker length pearl and diamond necklace, as well. Imagine wearing it like a princess on the wedding day, and then changing it to a necklace later, whenever a choker might feel more appropriate. Another versatile style is an earring with a detachable pearl drop. Assael’s “Uplighting” earrings feature diamonds in gold scroll on the lobe and a removable round or drop-shaped pearl. It offers more ways to wear or quick day-to-night transitions.
According to Harper’s Bazaar, the LBD (little black dress) is “having a moment.” Following the colorful post-pandemic “dopamine dressing” and the saturation of pink from Barbiecore, the classic look of a simple black dress “feels like a breath of fresh air.” Just in time for gala season, the beloved black dress is making appearances on runways and red carpets alike. “Pearl and diamond combos make the perfect accessory for such special occasion attire. The diamonds add a pop of opulence, while the pearls feel like a throw-back nod to the days of Coco Chanel herself who popularized the LBD in the roaring 20s a century ago,” explains Grosz.
Because both pearls and diamonds are white, wearing them with all-black dresses creates a dramatic black/white combo a la Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. They read as simple chic elegance … the sparkle of diamonds reflects gently off the surface of pearls, and the white luminous gems contrast the black fabric of the dress.
A cocktail ring is often called for when donning an LBD. Assael’s “New Deco” Akoya pearl ring with diamonds makes a bold statement for toasting or frolicking at dinner parties or swanky soirees. For a more subdued style, try a pearl and diamond earring that stays on the lobe. Drop earrings and chandelier styles are often seen with black-tie attire, but there is something extremely chic about the simplicity of a button type earring worn on the lobe. Assael’s “La Feuille” earring is the perfect example. Also, a Rivière necklace of not just diamonds, but diamonds together with pearls is a statement of effortless grace. Worn high and very near the neck, the reflection of all that splendor onto the face is remarkable, like an instant facial.
If your social calendar regularly fills with dress-up duties, consider versatile options like Assael’s “Lagniappe” necklace. This distinctive multi-strand Akoya pearl necklace features two bars of diamonds and a sleek removable aquamarine drop. It can literally be worn five different ways, to add variety or to work well with various necklines.
Pearls and Diamond will always be “friends,” independently stellar and even better together. Best of all, the enduring fashion relevance of pearl and diamond jewelry means all these pieces are generational. They can easily be worn by women of all generations and handed down as heirlooms to the people you love most. Updating your own jewelry box with contemporary elevated classics is always a good idea. And better yet, gifting a loved one with special occasion pieces is a gift that continues to give for many generations to come. Grosz said it best, “Pearls are known for their soft, subtle glow, diamonds for their flash and brilliance. Together, pearls and diamonds create the perfect combo – understated sophistication at its very best.”