All The Days Of Your Pearls

Did any of you watch soap operas? In the days before reality TV, YouTube, and Twitter/Facebook, they were the only way to indulge in daily, trivial, calming time spent on other people’s supposed problems. Remember the guy intoning, “All The Days Of Your Lives…”?

Those are my pearls. Up above. Really more than necessary. I’d say I didn’t know how I got what seems to be so many, but I do. I know.

Like this.

In the last century, High WASPs had so much money they bought jewelry for their babies. Yes. They did. That bar pin? For a baby. I wear it on lapels now. Plunder from my mother’s jewelry box, something I engaged in as a teenager as often as possible. I don’t know why she let me. Oh the diamond stick pins I have lost. One in Buffalo, New York, of all places.

When I turned 21, I asked my father for a pearl necklace. Instead, he gave me pearl studs. I cried. There were mitigating circumstances. My parents had just divorced and many things otherwise tolerable made me cry. Being the sort of father who really didn’t mean to make me sad, he then took me to visit the pearl dealer a friend of mine had recommended. And bought a strand of matched 7mm Mikimotos. Which you will see below, because I had them made into something else. What? Pearls are flexible like that.

Finally, a friend of mine got married a year or so after we graduated college. The little freshwater bracelet was a bridesmaid’s present. The groom wore a kilt. Our bridesmaid dresses were yellow gauze with green edging on lettuce ruffles. They are no longer married. She is quite happy with husband number two.

Above we see the pearls of middle adulthood. The earrings from a modern day gypsy, for my wedding. Mabe pearls from my sister, given her by a friend, daughter of an alcohol fortune. The friend died, in a scuba accident. These things sound flippant, made up, but they weren’t. Even the random parts of life eventually mean something.

I wore the earrings to sell nitrogen to semiconductor companies in the 1980’s. Do we think large button earrings will return, in the wake of leggings? They did confer a certain authority, even on those of us scared to death by our negotiation responsibilities.

The pendant was from my stepsister. She had kindly asked me to be the maid of honor at her wedding. Not one of my finest hours, in retrospect. Sometimes people don’t want highly intellectual toasts at their rehearsal dinners, in which laughter on the eve of marriage is somehow celebrated by references to death. I meant well.

I bought a bracelet in India but the pearls disintegrated. I’m thinking they weren’t pearls. The purchase was fun, however, and the tea I drank while sitting on pillows in the afternoon sun, delicious.

And finally, the pearls of our 50’s. It’s possible to gain confidence with age. Pearl audacity may follow. Purple gray earrings in 22k, with diamonds, a present from my mother. Daniel Gibbings, Santa Barbara. An 8.5mm necklace, 8.5-9mm earrings with small diamond accents, the original necklace from my father now a 3-strand bracelet. And yes, I will wear all the white ones together for the right occasion. With impunity. Because I play the Grande Dame as often as I can carry it off. For work, however, just the necklace, with diamond studs, took me into the New York Stock Exchange and back out alive in September 2008. As the stock market fell around us. A cameraman tried to interview me as I walked down Wall Street. I told him I had nothing to say. Seriously.

I suppose it’s time to do with the pearls what we do with everything in our 50’s, throw away or transform. I’m leaning towards transformation. Thinking about having something made, an over-the-top pair of earrings, or a brooch. Maybe with the random little bitty diamonds that have also accumulated. Less room for clutter at this stage, even when it’s opalescent. Even though it turns out to be awfully fun to rummage around in pearls with one’s fingers.

*And if the gray earrings in the last photo appear to be Photoshopped in, that’s because they are. Not due to non-existence, but because I am a forgetter-head and forgot to include them and by that point had reached the end of my patience for fidgeting with multiple pearls in a light box. Not sure whether to celebrate my new technical skills or mourn my lost capability to remember.

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  • My father gave me some of my mother's pearls… its been so long and I still don't have the heart to wear them … but their gorgeous luster beckons. I take them out, hold them against my skin, and just breathe …

  • I have small pearl studs, but have never felt comfortable in a strand of pearls. I do like to gaze upon women who can pull off that look.

  • I love the baby pin. My mother gave my daughter, at birth, a pearl bracelet with a few small gold beads. She's 7 now and so upset that it no longer fits her, but it's such a great idea to transform….hmmm….

  • I have a pearl circle pin my father gave my mother in the early 1960's. Trying to figure out some way to wear that with insouciance today.

    Other than that – pearl earrings with a diamond jacket around them, short strand and long strand from Hong Kong, and a double-stranded pearl bracelet for my 21st birthday with a clasp my father designed. In the era of being constantly computer-connected, the pearl bracelet doesn't get taken out very much. Hmm. Maybe it should come out to play.

  • The pearl is my birthstone. Hubby gave me a lovely pair of earrings and matching pendant as a wedding present. For our tenth anniversary, I received the full necklace and another pair of studs. Classic, always in style. :)

  • Memories, maturity and the acquisition of pearls…they are timeless.
    My pearl history goes from small and dainty, to larger and multiples of them!
    The Indian pearls may have dissolved if they came in contact with perfume…?
    What pearls are on your radar now?

  • Oooh, la.

  • Beautiful post on pearls and the many seasons of your life.And how they have always been there. I'm not much of a pearl wearer despite having more than the average person. Hmmmm.

  • Gorgeous, all the days of your pearls! We had baby bracelets, crazy when you think about giving babies jewelry.

    Peacock pearls are wonderful, my husband gave me a strand when we were dating. I do not wear them enough.

    I did take out my long-30th birthday-present-from-my-parents strand the other day, after the pearl discussion. Now I shall wear them, dammit. Also in the box was a beautiful pearl bracelet – my mom's gift to her bridesmaids 50 years ago. She got one back when her sister passed away, which I wore it at my wedding and apparently kept, oops.

  • Fantastic pictures – what colour and lustre 0 very professional and utterly covetable!

  • Beautiful pearls! You have reminded me that I don't wear my pearls enough.

  • i do not wear pearls, but i am married to a man who grew up watching soap operas. we now watch dark shadows together.

  • I still have the pearls my mother-in-law gave me to wear at my wedding (25 years ago). Also have a strand from her twin. She left them to me to hold them for my oldest son (who shares a family name with her) to give to his bride. My strand will go to the younger boy's bride someday. I like having that kind of legacy to hand down. Love the photos!

  • Pearl audacity <3

  • Pearls are my favorite. I have many different kinds of pearl necklaces and pearl stud earrings are what I wear 90% of the time.
    I remember in High School a friend of mine who I thought knew everything( she was my authority on all things at the time) and this friend told me she hated pearls and that the reminded her of death. It was that moment that I decided she didn't know everything and that maybe I should trust myself more. Ever since then pearls have been a sign of rebellion for me.

  • I have the pearls my mother wore at her wedding, but I definitely need to have them re-strung. I love the way you celebrate women over 50, btw. Would've liked to see you walking out of Wall Street last year…
    And the light box? I was just thinking how impressive your photos are! Great job.

  • Great post! I love how certain pieces remind you of times in your life. I got my first strand of pearls for my birthday this year from my husband. I then bought myself matching earrings!

  • I wonder if men have similar props to the stages of their lives? Hmm. For now, I find myself wanting to see all of yours:). Imagine so many pretty shiny things all across the world. To say nothing of Dark Shadows. Which I watched, all early teen hormes agog. Barnabas Collins…BTW, thank you so much for the kind words about my photos. It's fun, as so many already knew:).

  • It's quite amazing how much emotion is conveyed by piles of one's jewellery.

    I had faux pearl studs, they cost £4. They died last week. I have a little birthday money that is currently suggesting it be spent on a real pair of pearls.

  • Pearls and life stages — a great read.

    I have my mother's pearls, which I find hard to wear. She looked so elegant in them that I'm not sure I can "measure up"

    I bought a pair of studs many years ago as one of my first pieces of jewelry and they are still beautiful. There is just no place or time they don't look great.

  • Lisa, I don't have any pearls yet to pass to the women in my life (mom won't give them up) But my Dad did pass to me two things, Pocket watch,and four generations of Princeton class ring pins and buttons all on my first day of university.These are my props.

    Always Bumby

  • I am inspired to wear my pearls more often. Thank you.

  • Wonderful post. One of the great things about real fine jewelry is that it can be redesigned into something else. My first opera length strand of 7mm akoya pearls was later made into a 5 strand bracelet which was something that I would get much more use out of.
    I love estate jewelry because there is a story behind each and every piece.
    Sometimes I hold a piece from the estate of a famous actress or socialite in my hands and think to myself "If this jewelry could talk…the stories it would tell".

  • Do you wear the necklaces together? As you know I love pearls and often post on them. (One is coming soon). Women who don't wear their pearls might restyle them, as Belle has. Wonderful to hand them down, but it is good for pearls to be worn.

  • When I was a little boy I felt sorry for my grandmother (Granny Darling) because the pearl necklace she mostly wore was made of big, globby, ugly, mis-shapen pearls. I thought it was a shame that my Grandfather Darling couldn't afford to buy her one made up of nice, graduated, perfect round ones, like my mother had. Little did I realise that Granny's fresh-water Baroque pearl necklace was the most valuable piece of jewelry she owned, and more valuable than virtually any other single possession they owned. It was appraised at over $20 thousand when she died over 20 years ago. Reggie

  • pretty much I love you for this post! love pearls. I workout in them. their genesis is so symbolically beautiful.



  • i too have too many pearls. …but i don't think there is such a thing. I love my pearls, i wear them all the time. hoorah for girls and their pearls.

  • I love this. Revel in your pearls.

  • Great photos. Great stories. I've been meaning to get my pearls out and use them to support a pendant — I've admired that look on others and have the perfect piece to hang from them. Your post is just the prod I need to get them out and wear them (as is Duchesse's comment that pearls are better when worn regularly).

  • I love the story of your pearls, and I think baby jewelry is just the best.

  • LPC, might you consider selling them off to help fund your next venture? By your own admission, braving deep oceans is your birthright, not the shiny prizes that rest at the bottom of them.

    Not to be harsh, just another HW doing his best to stay 'In the Arena.'

  • Have them restrung into something modern. They are all gorgeous.

  • Now I want a strand of pearls. I never wanted a strand of pearls before, but I do now.

    My lightbox and I have become one, but I spent a ridiculous amount of time yesterday evening taking a picture of Jiminy Cricket for my photo-a-day-all-year project and forgot to process and post it on Flickr last night.

  • I am of course thinking about funding my next venture all the time. That's a great benchmark. Do I love my possible next venture more than my pearls? Or, how hard am I willing to work to keep my pearls? Sounds rather like Gone With The Wind…Not harsh at all. Harsh is when some one calls you stupid, not when they point out a lapse in logic.

  • Very well timed for me, this morning I wanted to liven a simple cashmere sweater and found a pearl brooch that I bought on my honeymoon and some simple studs, but switched to something with a little more flair as per your last pearl post.

  • You'll be horrified to know I don't own a single pearl. Not one. I don't like pearls and I realize it's just a personal preference but aske me about my natural turquoise collection and I'll show you piece after piece. To each his own, I suppose.

    Your pearls are beautiful pieces.

  • I love how you chronicle life through pearls. I too have various strands and pieces of pearl jewelry for various stages and phases of life. My daughter LOVES to go through my jewelry box and I still love to go through my mother's.

  • Loved your post and photos….pearls have stories to tell. I've added a link to your wonderful blog on my comprehensive site about pearls.

  • Not horrified at all. Pearls may be a certificate of something, but not a required class:). Kari, thank you.

  • These are all so gorgeous, but I'm especially coveting that multi-strand necklace. If you do decide to refashion any or all of these, you have a great selection to work with. But I think they're all fine as they are.

  • This is perfect Miss LPC, I just love it, and the photos are outstanding. We like the idea of transformation over tossing. Our favorite strand (7mm matched Mikimotos as well) was "lost" under odd circumstances, they had been my Grandmother's. Sigh. But they were only her pearls, and not her, so we move on.

    Smiles to you,

  • Oh definitely congratulate yourself on your new technical skills – am most impressed! And I love those grey pearl earrings too!
    S-E x

  • Oh, Lisa.
    I don't wish to tell people what to do. (And isn't that the standard line signaling that someone is about to tell you what to do?)
    But it's so sad to think of your selling pearls to fund a venture. They were passed onto you from people you love.
    God willing, I won't have to sell off my possessions any time soon. But I'd empty out the books, clothes, handbags, shoes, etc. first.
    The family gifts would be the last thing to go.

  • I think I have more pearl jewelry in my humble collection than any other kind only because I love the way they look on me (how vain, eh?) and there is something understated about pearls that I like. Pearls say, "Look at me, but nod your approval. No gushing, no wide-eyed wows, please."

  • I have my own baby jewelry – gold and pearls in the form of a bracelet, pin, necklace and signet ring (the last in case my pre-literate baby self needed to seal with wax an urgent missive?). My sixteenth birthday brought pearls that are now waaaay to short for me and which I'm saving for my own daughter and which were followed up on my 21st with two funky grey and pink bracelets. Cool, but now off the table as I enter my forties.

    I'm sort of pearl-less at the moment. Maybe now is the time when I go out and pick my own?

  • I've always loved pearls for their classical beauty… I remember my mother using them all the time because as did her mother… I have one set of earring she gave me to match the necklace I made for myself… ;)

  • Marsha – Yes, I think now is the time when if you want them, you buy them for yourself. It's fun to buy nice jewelry. The people in those stores are exceptionally good to their customers, on the whole. And Elie – if you can make necklaces, so much the better.

  • So adorable!! I love pearl and stone jewelery.
    Thanks for this post! I really like it. Keep posting!

  • Pearls seem to accumulate over time, don’t they? My first husband gave me a pearl choker as a wedding gift. I had them matched and restrung to opera length. Then my aunt passed away and left me another choker. My mother-in-law’s pearls went to my eldest daughter, her namesake, and I’m holding onto a strand of my grandmother’s pearls to give to my other daughter when she turns 18. And my second (and final) husband brought me a pearl brooch from Japan, then gave me pearl earrings for an anniversary.

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