I've been drawn to pearls for as long as I can remember. My Birthday is in June. My Birthstone is the pearl. Simple, stylish and elegant. They can be small and understated or big and bold. But they're never showy and never loud and never brash as diamonds can be. I'm a pearl girl through and through. I have a pair of diamond stud earrings that I wear from time to time. My engagement and wedding rings are diamond. Stunning and brilliant and classic in style. But had the Pearl been a bit heartier able to withstand what my hands do and go through I would have chosen a pearl ring for certain. As it is my hands are busy and clumsy and often I trade the brilliant diamonds for my two simple gold bands that cannot be bent and damaged. Back to the pearls...
I got my first pair of pearl earrings when I was 13. My paternal grandmother gave them to me for my Birthday. I lost one a few years later and was devastated and ashamed to tell anyone so I replaced it with a cheapie, reproduction set. During my college years I was never without my pearl earrings or necklace. Not real. My mother would not let me bring real ones to school. And she was wise!
After I graduated from college my love of the pearl remained. I wore my single strand necklace and earrings all over the place. Even to the gym!
I wanted more and on a meager, newly-grad, publishing income I could only afford costume jewelry. And this is where my collection of bigger, bolder and funner pearls grew. I could use these big and fun necklaces to dress up a pair of jeans or I could wear them with a Little Black Dress. For many years I lived in Greenwich, Connecticut right off the Avenue, THE place for shopping and dining. There was a Carolee Store right around the corner of my apartment. Me in that store was like a little child in a candy store. It was heaven. One bauble was more divine than the next. (Carolee also designed costume jewelry for Ralph Lauren.) And so my collection of costume pearls grew and flourished.
To this day I wear them all. Sometimes one piece on its own, and other-times I mix pieces, large and small, real and faux. Pearls are my passion!
When I met my husband, at the end of my 20s, I told him the story of my lost pearls. When I was 29, just before we married, he replaced my pearl earrings with a lovely pair of Mikimotos. I wear these the most to this day. A couple of years later he gave me a pair of black pearls, also Mikimoto.
I got married 2 weeks after I turned 30. My Carolee pearls took center stage. The necklace is double stranded. I was wearing them one day before the wedding and my Jolie Grandmere suggested I twist them. I did, and a whole new necklace was born! La Grandmere kept complimenting this set of faux pearls. She truly adored them. Even though she could have afforded the real thing many times over, I handed them over to her after I was married. So was so touched and so thankful and so grateful!
Here I am in my bedroom in Newport (like the old Laura Ashley border around the windows? So very 80s! It has since been removed.) I'm modeling the dress that I designed with my Jolie Grandmere who was over from Europe for the Grande Fete! We hired a local and very talented dress-maker to bring our drawing to life. More pearls adorn the dress. Over-sized pearl buttons on the over-sized cuffs and collar. The dress was made of silk and a Dotted-Swiss. My white Dotted-Swiss sash was lined in a buttercup colored silk. The dress was designed to wear with pearls, naturally! What do you think? Project Runway worthy?
Newly married, Bellini in hand ... naturally!
I just love this photo... Pearls and Girlfriends are the perfect combination!
Pearls (and sash) take Center Stage...
We danced to the Lester Lanin Orchestra, the first dance was Someone To Watch Over Me
After the festivities were over -- they lasted several days -- my grandmother headed back to her home in Oxfordshire and my lovely husband and I headed off to honeymoon in Paris and then to reconnect with my grandparents and attend the Championships at Wimbledon where saw almost no tennis as most of the days were spent in the Members Enclosure drinking Pimms, sheltered from the pouring rain!
After 2 weeks of bliss I returned home to the States and our house in Greenwich. But something was missing. My grandmother had my necklace. Without it I was lost and naked despite all the other pearls I owned. I headed over to Carolee to find a replacement. I was not able to find the same one but found one that was even bigger and equally as fun and festive. (It's the one I wore my night out with Tamara.) As much as I loved my new Jawbreaker-sized baubles, I missed my other one...
When I was in my mid-30s, La Jolie Grandmere was diagnosed with Leukemia, Multiple Myeloma. They departed, seemingly overnight, to seek treatment and the rest of their lives in the States. Leaving everything behind my grandparents left their home, their friends and all their belongings behind in the UK. My mother was given the arduous task of sorting through all the goods. Which ones to keep and ship to the States, which to donate. Which to toss. Appraisers were brought over to assess her belongings. My mother was in England for over a fortnight sorting and packing, sorting and packing. As packages arrived from overseas, some large containing pieces of furniture, silver and assorted antiques, smaller packages arrived as well. Once back in Newport my mother sorted through all the treasures and created more boxes. Boxes for me.
One day, a large shipment of boxes came for me. We were living in Fairfield at the time. I sifted through piles and piles, unwrapping photographs and paintings and silver. In one box, in a smallish manila envelope, I felt something rather lumpy. I took out the tissue paper from within to reveal a very well taken care of double stranded pearl necklace. It was the necklace I had given her! A note inside in her handwriting read something like, on loan from Jessica. The necklace holds an even more special place in my heart now.