Shanghai Pearls Shanghai Pearls

Street style - Shanghai pearls

Team Adorn hit the streets of Shanghai to capture the coolest, cutest and quirkiest pearl jewellery looks.


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Half-pearl-half-chain looks have been popular for a while now, but what caught our attention with these pieces is the contrast between the classic pearl strand on one side and the idiosyncratic embellishment on the other. Jewellery featuring lavishly draped chains is a dominant look in our wider edit of images from Shanghai (available exclusively to Adorn members) so it's gratifying to see delicate iterations – perhaps as saftey chains – on these pearl necklaces. Love the molten heart and whimsical pear-shaped flower pendant too!

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Taking the half-and-half theme and running with it, the Y-necklace on the left introduces a chic rope chain to the mix, offsetting its engineered precision with a strand of textured freshwater pearls. The piece on the right shows a similar silhouette with the daintiness dialled up.

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There's much to like about these styling solutions in which statement pearls play a starring role. Anyone looking to make a memorable exit should consider channeling the look on the left where a single single freshwater pearl pops at the centre of lashings of yellow gold chain draped across the wearer's back. Alternatively (or also) consider the mixed gold look on the right where an undulating keshi pearl dangles from a nice piece of hardware. It's all about the contrasts in texture and tone here.

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The cute 'daisy chain' beaded necklace – the subject of a many an online DIY jewellery tutorial during lockdown – comes in for an eyecatching update in these pearl-based looks. Who said crafting couldn't be cool?

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We always enjoy jewellery that reveals itself on closer inspection which is why these front-back earring looks caught our attention. Dior's branded Tribale earring features a pearl embellished with dianty star and crescent moon motifs. The rococo-inspired open hoop on the right sports a subtle but sexy peek-a-boo pearl behind the lobe.

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Although very different and aesthetic and placement, what appeals about these two looks is the way pearls are used to create a framing device or accent a figurative outline. On the left, asymmetrically placed pearls soften the wire and chain floral earpiece. To the right, the graduated pearl half-halo interlocked with the spiralling turquoise device makes for a beautiful infinity symbol update.

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Three makes a trend, or so they say. So whilst we only clocked this ring style twice, we think that's enough to back it as a concept that supports a vogue for jewels that are opulent and fun. The double pearl strand makes for pleasing proportions. And, as the images show, both round and elongated pearls work well here.

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Pearls are not just for jewellery. They can be for hair and fingernails too.

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We get more than our fair share of images showing stylish men wearing pearls too, notably strands such as these, that can be clipped and pinned from belt loops, lapels, collars and cuffs. Whilst not functional, per se, these pieces do nod to a wider trend for 'functional jewellery' that has a purpose beyond pure decoration. With a little adaptation, styles such as these can be adapted to act as carriers and connectors.


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The rise in multipurpose chains during the pandemic was a perfect example of 'functional jewels' or, more accurately, jewellery-like accessories that perform a function. Styles such as those above can attach to a mask, eyewear or be worn as a necklace or wraparound bracelet. The sweet spot for jewellery and product designers channeling this trend is to successfully combine purpose and aesthetic.

Photographs: Dave Tacon  @davetacon  https://www.davetaconphotography.com/

Words: Maia Adams

Posted in Insight on 21 June, 2021