A real strand of pearls is apt to be a graduated strand and a tidy collar length (at your throat), a choker (base of your neck), a princess (collarbone length), or a matinee (sits just above your chest). Dainty and real choker or collar-length pearls are for weddings, funerals, and passing down to the next generation. And those princess and matinee lengths will look less Midcentury Matron or Madame Secretary if you introduce them to very casual fabrics or tuck them inside in the V of your white shirt or the neck of your T-shirt or V-neck sweater.
Now, our pearls should be larger, longer, all one size, and unapologetically fake. Alber Elbaz at Lavin started the fashion of pearls strung loosely on ribbon. Like Chanel, he reinvented a classic by knocking the stuffy out of the look. Try on an opera or rope length (48 to 120 inches long) wrapped twice around your neck. Chanel said that “a woman should wear ropes and ropes of pearls.”
There are so many impressive fakes to have – new or vintage.
The nicest faux pearls, like Chanel’s are still being made as the Romans made them, by coating glass beads with mother of pearl. Other good fakes have a lovely iridescence that imitates the nacre on real pearls created by coating glass beads, a fish-scale solution that looks better than it smells.
Mix larger-scale spherical (round) cultured pearls with Baroque (irregular, naturally shaped pearls). Choose the right white, ivory, or cream for your skin tone for a luminous look. Wear the deep gray tones that imitate Tahitian pearls if the color suits you. And don’t overlook vintage strands. Vintage faux pearls have a weight in the hand and a luster that you simply don’t see as much in new styles.