Madame Chanel may as well be the patron saint of pearls the way she heavily layered them on in the 1920s. Piled on thick or worn as one demure little white strand, the perennially in-style lustrous jewelry accessory adds texture to any ensemble from jeans to dresses. Varying greatly in luster, sizes and color (white, pink, black to purple), they are downright elegant. Though a symbol of modesty and purity, you don’t have to aspire to a Polly Purebred look to wear them — even the stereotypical single, white, cultured variety. So please hang up those macramé hemp and silver ball chain necklaces from 1991 and step into 2004.
Gabie appropriately dons her faux Bam-Bam pearl baubles at the Gathering of Goddesses, a benefit for Planned Parenthood, at the Radisson downtown Saturday, April 3.
Gabie Peek can vouch for the recent pearl popularity. “They are big on campus at DePauw,” the university student said at the Planned Parenthood fund-raiser Gathering of Goddesses last Saturday night at the Radisson downtown. “Pearls and ribbons as belts are big,” as is the whole preppy look she said. “I always wear my polo collar up and pointy shoes.” Gabie looked “fabie” in her bubble gum-sized Bam-Bam bauble pearls and pink ribbon sash belt. At an event where every woman was treated to goddess-style spa treatments, psychic readings and Greek food, Gabie, a Planned Parenthood volunteer, was dressed for the part. “It was wonderful. Everyone wants to come back next year!” she said of the first-time event. Red Ella (2902 W. 86th St.) carries a selection of faux pearls that range in price from $34 to $74 for the popular ribbon-tie 16-inch strands. Faux pearls can be found anywhere, with prices as low as $10 for a small strand at Target. Parkside Linen, across from North Central High School, carries one-of-a-kind, out-of-the-ordinary, hand-crafted, freshwater pearl necklaces in varying colors, sizes and lengths made by local silversmith Anita Gogulis-Danenman. The mutlicolored selection rivals what any local jewelry store could offer for the quality. Goth girls would describe them as looking like they came out of some medieval crypt while rock chicks may like them for the simple reason that Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler has donned her stuff. Here’s a little Pearl 101. Natural pearls are costly, rarely perfectly round and are Mother Nature-made in mollusks. Cultured pearls are farmed and have an implanted nucleus that they grow around. Less expensive than the natural, the quality can be greater. Keshi pearls are a long and flat pearl byproduct. A good fake can be hard to tell from cultured. And if you have the real thing you should be wearing them. Don’t hoard the good stuff for special occasions! Fake or real — who cares! Just wear them. As for Gabie’s ribbon belt, visit any fabric shop and get a couple of yards of your favorite wide width satin ribbon and bow your belt. Or, sew grosgrain ribbon onto D-rings and make your own prepster casual belt because they’ve been selling out at shops like the Gap in Greenwood and Red Ella up north. “They did really well,” Lindsey Eckert, salesgirl at Red Ella, said. But, Old Navy at River Crossing still has lime green or powder blue for $9.50. Ayres carries light blue and bright pink grosgrain ribbon belts for $18 and Cha Cha still has a selection priced at $29. Pearls and ribbon belts are two must-have accessories for spring that are a very affordable way to update your wardrobe.