If you needed any convincing that pearls weren't just for your mother or your grandmother, the models sporting edgy pearl ear cuffs at WA label Zhivago's Australian Fashion Week show in Sydney recently might just be enough to change your mind.
No longer are pearls the domain of "older women", to be paired with a cashmere twin-set and worn only to gala events. They can still be that, of course - but a younger generation of women is rediscovering the beauty and fashion relevance of pearl jewellery.
WA-based Atlas Pearls and Perfumes recently photographed Perth model and The Face Australia contestant Sarah Tilleke and her mother Julie, both wearing Atlas Pearls jewellery (and Aurelio Costarella gowns). Sarah, the brand's new ambassador, sports the edgy ear cuff worn by Zhivago's fashion week models, while Julie sports a more traditional pair of pearl studs.
"A pearl evolves with time - it takes two years to create a pearl, and certainly every woman has a journey and an evolution of her own," Atlas Pearls general manager Pierre Fallourd says. "A more mature woman may choose a classic, perfectly shaped strand, while a younger woman may like the more contemporary nature of a keshi strand or an ear cuff."
Atlas Pearls is a leader in sustainable eco-pearling, operating five pearl farms throughout the Indonesian archipelago - from far north WA across to West Papua - and harvesting more than 300,000 South Sea pearls every year. The company, which has been pearling for 20 years, now has six retail outlets in Bali but its global headquarters is in Claremont, where potential pearl customers can liaise with a showroom stylist to select the right piece.
"Picking pearls can be a tricky exercise as they come from various parts of the world and have varying physical characteristics such as shape, shade, shine and size," Mr Fallourd says.
"The most important factor in making a decision about which pearl is right for you is to look at the pearls with the object of falling in love, rather than trying to be 'rational' about it."