IMG_9160 Icons of style all had a way of wearing pearls, whether they were real, faux or combined. Who can forget Grace Kelly’s fit-and-flare dress with an elegant choker in Rear Window or Audrey Hepburn’s multiple strands clasped in front with a large brooch and cascading around her back in Breafast at Tiffanys? Jackie Kennedy’s way of tucking a single strand into the top of a dress or shirt or Chanel’s pile-on aesthetic both left impressions on our collective style consciousness. We know what opera, matinee, choker, rope and bib styles and lengths mean, and in the past, the appropriate events at which to wear them and the fashions to accessorize.

IMG_8850But in today’s era of personalization—we have thrown out the rule books and dress by our own standards. While we might not wear sweatpants to the opera, we can definitely wear opera length pearls with T-shirts and jeans. More important, pearls have dusted off their heirloom, preppy and/or traditional images for a more creative, fancifully feminine or rough-hewn approach to rare and exceptional quality pearls.






IMG_9161Just ask Lene Vibes, who has been working with pearls since she launched her collection in 2005 and from whose imagination springs the magical wonderland of flowers blooming and creatures surrounding her South Sea, conch and keshi pearls.


Lene has an affinity for pearls, which are large, lustrous and baroque in shape and are inspired by the fairytales of her youth. She creates fantastical stories for each of her pearl pieces, which evoke traipsing through an enchanted forest or exploring the woods.


IMG_9159It’s not surprising that she fell in love with one of the earliest gems in history. Pearls are formed inside a living sea animal, emerge in lustrous colors and require no cutting or shaping. “Pearls are the most natural of all of jewelry’s wonders,” Lene says. Her studio looks out onto her garden, providing her with inspiration while she creates her intricate pieces at her workbench, where the natural world meets the more hip, current and witty inventions that become her designs.


IMG_8849 croppedLene has an utterly charming and distinguishable way of working with pearls. A South Sea pearl might be surrounded by flowers – garden variety and exotic, in a ring. Earrings dangle with keshi or baroque pearls, along with gold leaves and thorns and diamond slices. Snails and ladybugs land on tiny flowers surrounding a luminescent baroque pearl.







Lene layering her pearls on her leather cording in one or as multiples with her 18K gold charms

Lene not only has a distinctive design aesthetic but also has strong advice on he way she envisions pearl wearing worn today. She offers the following tips and advice:


1Throw out everything you learned from your mother or your grandmother and start from who you are today.







IMG_8839 cropped2– Juxtapose the luster and radiance of pearls with a more rough-hewn texture and wear one large baroque gray or cream pearl on a long, hand-braided leather cord. It’s much more edgy, especially when the pearls are organically shaped and accented with gold creatures, flowers and the sparkle of tiny diamonds.  I make my own cording from braiding fine leather strips and then I create a moveable knot in the back so they are adjustable.





3- You don’t have to wear just one pearl or one color or type of pearl. I like to mix colors up: darker and lighter gray baroques with cream and pinkish South Sea pearls. You can then add some gold charms in the shape of leaves, snails and thorns. It becomes more of a charm necklace that way.



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IMG_88584- Polished rough or rose-cut diamond set with a little flower or creatures can also be added to one or more pearls or gold motifs on either a cord or chain.

5- Smaller keshis for pearl earrings designed to loop through one or two holes and be worn with another smaller or large style pearl earring next to it feels really modern. Play around and see what looks best, depending on how many piercings you have in your ear. It’s very of the moment but if you think about ancient times, it started there. Just make sure whatever you are adding, looping or stringing through your ears is light enough so that it doesn’t cause your lobe to droop later in life.



6- I believe in ultra-ultra long strands of tonal variations of pearls with little garden motif accents but nothing too symmetrical in design. You can wrap them around your neck and over your shoulder and down your back.


7- An ultra-long strand of 72 inches or more gives you many looks to play with and they all work depending on how far off the chart you want to go. I use more traditional pearls for the more outrageous way of wearing them.



8-You can knot the very long strand like the flappers wore them in the 1920s-30s.



9- These same long necklace strands can be wrapped around your wrist as many times as they can go. This offers you two looks in one and will look more spontaneous and less “matched” to your outfit

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10-Rings can be worn on any finger and in multiple stacks. Whether you choose cultured, keshi, conch or South Sea baroque is up to you. Remember to choose varying widths and complementary gold and diamond stackers if you want to wear all your rings stacked high on one finger. Or you can wear a bolder statement pearl ring as your main look and wear thinner styles on other fingers.


Whatever you do, have fun—experiment with pieces that project who you are. There is no right or wrong when it comes to wearing pearls today.