I have always loved to wear pearls. Are they favourite of yours, dear Reader?
“Pearls are always appropriate”
Jackie Kennedy was right, pearls go with everything and bring a timeless elegance to special outfits for special occasions and lift more ordinary clothes. There are many ways to wear them – how do you like to wear them?
It started for me when I was 19 years old when I had my ears pierced. The whole point was to wear pearl studs. The process was very different to the piercing method now – I felt brave when my mother took me to a local jeweller to have them done. After the tiny gold sleeper stage, that was it , pearl studs all the time , with everything.
At 21 when I “came of age” I was given a single row of graduated Rosita Pearls that I still have and wear. So from the end of the 70’s I wore my pearl studs and pearls with a lot of outfits, some more elegant than others. As you know I love the old films of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s and noticed so many film stars wearing pearls – 2 or 3 rows particularly.
Pearls are classic and reflect a glow onto the skin that is flattering. Her majesty, The Queen is hardly ever seen attending daytime events without her beautiful diamond and pearl earrings and 3 rows of priceless pearls. The necklace that is seen so often is a 3 strand graduated necklace that was made out of family pearls shortly after she came to the throne in 1952. That necklace is fastened with a small diamond clasp. The earings are Queen Mary’s Button earings, inherited from her Grandmother. They are her trademark.
For a very large part of my life I wore my pearl studs, the Rosita pearls and the gold bracelet that was a21st Birthday present from my parents. That jewellery saw me through good and bad times, and helped me to feel more confident when I needed to be. I am very lucky because I there has been a second chance to be happy as I am now in a second marriage with a wonderful, caring man and a large blended family. I sold my engagement ring and wedding ring from my first marriage, added extra money and bought a single row of real, graduated pearls. Why? There were two reasons. Firstly , I wanted them. Secondly, I had seen many times “The Glenn Miller Story”!
My Mother told me that James Stewart was more handsome that the real Glenn Miller, but the music and the story! I just loved it all! My favourite song is “String of Pearls”, a 1941 song composed by Jerry Grey, with lyrics by Eddie Delange.
In the film Glenn has a long distance relationship with Helen. He pops in and out of her life putting his trombone in and out of hock. He gets a good price on a single row of pearls for his girl. When he gets to see her , very late after a gig, he tells her “They are for your birthday!”. “It’s not my Birthday until November.” says Helen. “They are for your next birthday. “he replies. Later when they are married, have found “The Sound” and are doing very well, he surprises her at a dance where his orchestra are playing. He bounds off the podium and presents Helen with a single strand of pearls, “These are for your birthday, they’re just real” he says. Returning to the podium , as the number ends he announces that it is called String of Pearls. I love those moments so much, it is one of my favourite Glenn Miller Tracks.
Wearing my “just real” string of pearls brought great pleasure and a classic look well into my life as is it is now. Those pearls have seen me through a lot of happy occasions and represent surviving a long tough journey.
My collecting really started with buying my first powder compact at a vintage and Arts fair in Stratford on Avon. That Collection sparked an interest in vintage handbags and making my style more 1950’s – wearing fitted jackets, pencil skirts, heels of course and a nod to Christian Dior’s 1947 New Look silhouette. So, to get a more vintage look my single row was all right , but really more rows were needed.
My husband always comes with me to Vintage Fairs because he is a savvy negotiator and will always tell me if he thinks something is not good! About 5 years ago, following my discovering the brown corde handbag we started to go to the NEC to Antiques for Everyone. I was buying powder compacts for my collection, but once there I could see amazing costume jewellery, handbags, vintage clothes and more. It all felt new and thrilling, this hunting out treasures.
After asking a number of exhibitors if they had 3 rows of graduated pearls I was directed to Diane Ashman, of Ashman’s Antiques and Old Lace. She had some amazing pearls, which I bought!
I also got a great deal on some ruched 1950’s nylon gloves in black and brown!. The excitement at being able to wear these accessories, to feel a connection to the decade I was born into was both wonderful and freeing. I had my three rows of pearls.
With collecting it seems it is easy to expand an interest into other related things, would you agree? There is also the sense of living history that I have read about in other vintage blogs that expresses this very well. It is a feeling of joy. I love the fact that there is never anyone, anywhere who look like me. I am unique and memorable!
To collecting powder compacts, I added 1950’s costume jewellery and vintage accessories. I have found more three rows of pearls in different lengths and with different gaps between the rows. they can be worn with all kinds of outfits and necklines I just adore trying on different skirts, tops, and jackets and then getting the jewellery right. I call it doing my “styling”.
With experience and practice comes the understanding of what you really like and want. I do not know if you have found this , but collecting goes in stages. At first it is just collecting anything you can find. Then comes preferences for certain styles and makers. I love all my unmarked jewellery, but now favour Trifari, Monet, Napier, Christian Dior and Sarah Coventry. For pearls I look for Lotus Rosita and Ciro in their original box if possible.
I always take a magnifying glass out with me so I am prepared for hunting out treasures! I have found some amazing things. You develop an eye for what you like and get better and better over time. There is a lot to help with knowledge on the Internet and aquiring reference books really helps too.
I have 5 rows of pearls often worn in films by actresses like Joan Crawford, but I have to admit I have not worn them yet. I know they are they in the collection waiting for me. I am too busy wearing 2 and 3 rows at every opportunity.
Have you had any amazing finds? I would love to hear your stories.
Thank you for visiting Gloriously Vintage today.