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From Heirloom To Hot, This Is How Grandma’s Pearls Became All Sorts Of Cool

It’s true what they say: nothing beats the good ‘ol classics.

From the depths of the sea to its eventual ascension into the mainstream as anointed by Pharrell, Travis Scott, and Harry Styles, there is a lot more to the charm of pearls than just the classic fashion reputation.

It’s always worth a chuckle when a trend once thought of as irrevocably flat-lined and left forgotten in the graveyard of fashion moments is accorded a resuscitation.  Shaking off the dregs of once being maligned by the greater majority or the installed council of cool, these cyclical affectations prove that there is nothing absolute in fashion. Whether it is once-upon-a-time deemed dreadful and distasteful, or corralled in the classic, it will at some point figure in its own renaissance. The timelines may differ, but we’ve seen it all happen again—the rebellious nature of elephant pants, the restriction of Victorian-age corsetry, and the rigors that defined pearls earrings and necklaces, among many, many others—it will keep coming back, for better or worse.

Nothing beats a true classic, but while there is enough reverence to sustain its place in the hallowed halls of fashion, it often just stays stuck there left to gather dust or enjoyed by only a privileged few. Pearls for example have long been respected since time immemorial. Decorating royalty, punctuating power, and adding grace to glamour, the endurance of these gems are unprecedented. From a defense mechanism weathering nature’s ways to hanging on the likes of your Lola, Audrey Hepburn, or Blair Waldorf, it always seemed to be something admired by the rest from a distance.


Pearls, The Fashion Mainstay

It was always special, sure. But did everyone have access to its fineries as say, the up and up? Not quite. So, while it was always a mainstay in fashion, it never really trickled down beyond Chanel for everyone to enjoy.

Included in the packet of renaissance is a dismantling of the limits things were once subjected to. With the typically exclusive world of fashion, this means a return to not only a better form, but to something more democratic. In the 90s, the dame of punk herself, Vivienne Westwood, revived the combination of pearls and corsets, throwing it together with the nonchalance and grit of the decade. The result was an anachronism that in its stroke of genius was way ahead of its time. Why? Because while it faded away, just as trends typically do, today, pearls are no longer reserved for the aristocratic or a strict symbol of success.

A simple turn in public or a scroll through one’s social media timeline will reveal the sight of many young women and even taking to the beauty of pearls and incorporating it in the style discourse of the generation.

Cool With You

From Harry Styles, Bella Hadid, Addison Rae, Pharrell, and A$AP Rocky rocking the pearls as royals or your grandma have done long before it was a thing, suddenly the rules to wearing them cease to exist. Whether it worn on one ear, both fancy and fine looped together, or gravitating towards the irregularly shaped ones, pearls have become more than just a function of contrast to a fashion statement, but a badge of confidence for everyone to see.

More than just a predominant affinity for revival, repurposing, or reimagining, this is a timely response to shatter stereotypes and reignite a love for what once was. No longer stuffed in boxes or a conditional heirloom to be passed along for a special occasion, look, people are actually wearing pearls and not in an ironic way. More than just a bemused chuckle, this one is worth a lingering smile and a knowing wink from those who have long reminded us, because just like the good ‘ol day, yes, pearls are cool again.


Pearls are a product of paradox. Coming from a place of resistance, it coats itself in layers of luster, eventually becoming the thing of beauty we marvel at. Compelled by this source of inspiration, fine jewelry brand, Arao, is committed to its contrast, creating modern classics that go beyond the pervasive precedent of being just grandmother’s pearls. Anchored by the uniqueness of Golden South Sea Pearls, the women-led brand champions the spirit of adaptation and authenticity in its latest collection. A coming together of two worlds, the ocean and the earth, Paradox plays with proportions and symmetry, combining Golden South Sea Pearls (including the unique baroque ones) and gems such as diamonds, emeralds, and citrine, all forged with metals like sterling silver and 18k and 14k gold.

Ethically sourced and organically harvested from a sustainable pearl farm in Palawan, Arao is dedicated to the care of its source, as well as of the communities that make these environments thrive. From embracing a no-waste mantra and eco-conscious production and pledging a portion of its sales to The Philippines Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to educating mothers and children on leaving a positive impact on the planet and restoration of coral reefs and mangroves), Arao more than just about pearls, but of people and the planet as well.

Much like no two pearls are ever alike, as it is dependent on the ebb and flow of nature, there is an inherent uniqueness to the stories that make up the story of Arao. Taking this premise further, the brand ups the ante with Pearl Lab, an immersive and interactive segment of its website that allows clients to create their own Paradox according to birthstone and choice of South Sea Pearl. This way it essentially ends up as it begins, real and special.


Noticed the string of glistening golden pearls that draped ever so elegantly on the neck of Bretman Rock for his NYLON Manila cover? Sourced straight from the abundance of the Philippine seas by Jewelmer, this singular strand is a precious imprint of beauty, poetry, and nature, as is every piece from the tradition of the brand’s core of French sensibilities and Filipino craftsmanship. Reflective of harmonious symbiotic relationships, from nature and man, as well as of pearls and precious metals, Jewelmer is a realization of pride, philosophy, and passion in a portfolio of bracelets, earrings, necklaces, pendants, and rings.

While its pursuit of perfection is akin to enduring elegance and indulgent intricacies, Jewelmer has made movements towards the understated with contemporary bangles, cone pendants, and braided leather.


With a predilection for the honest in expression and the sartorially unapologetic, Pranca is more than just a reference to Filipino candor. Championing craftsmanship of local artisans and the charm of the pearls it is both informed and inspired by, the demi-fine jewelry brand is an open invitation to come as you are with products made as you are. Thoughtful, expertly designed, and intriguingly different, there is a pragmatism that courses through the brand’s DNA, extending the decorated details into the ease of the everyday.

With three capsule collections so far, told in stories that are sublime as the pieces are sublime, Pranca parlays pearls into ear cuffs, anklets, earrings, necklaces, and rings, some of which are interspersed with sterling silver, 14-Karat gold, diamond, and sapphire. Here, imperfection is the hero as baroque pearls, broken links, and misaligned metals are made to form links of limitless potential. For Pranca, every curious action is not only accepted, but also meant to matter. “Your pearl moment—reinvented,” it rightfully declares, a fitting deference for the decidedly different and a nod to the wonder of nature is guided by.