Liz Taylor’s fabulous La Peregrina pearl necklace sold in December for a record $11 million at Christie’s, reaching the highest price ever for pearl jewelry at auction and far surpassing its $2-3 million estimated price. The Cartier pearl, diamond and ruby necklace given to the actress by her husband Richard Burton features a huge tear-drop natural pearl discovered in the 16th century in the Gulf of Panama. The pearl La Peregrina, meaning “the wanderer,” has a long resplendent history. Owned by kings and queens including King Philip II of Spain, it is immortalized in 17th century Velazquez royal portraits. It’s a statement necklace par excellence.
The statement necklace is clearly a trend to watch. Customers after years of austerity and wariness of conspicuous consumption are ready for something new. The emerging statement piece strikes a balance and seems to hit just the right chord. Featured on fashion runways and adorning red carpet celebrities for the last couple years, it’s now becoming mainstream. Often worn with toned down outfits - a simple black dress or pants and top - a stand-out necklace can make an outfit without the investment in a whole new wardrobe each season. It also allows the wearer to express her individuality, an important trend seen in the ever popular add-on beads bracelets and charms with personalized messages.Big and bold, statement necklaces are wearable art. Ranging from funky fashion to exquisite haute couture, pieces feature a variety of materials and textures including chunky organic-shaped gems, such as turquoise, and slices of gems - pearls, and mixed metals, often combined in a single piece. Multi-strand and layered looks are popular as well as bib and collar styles. Combinations of color, texture, materials and form are prominent - the bigger the better. The statement piece is not for the timid. Edginess is key as people express themselves by pushing the fashion envelope, perhaps a sign of the times.
The statement necklace has a rich history reaching back to ancient Egypt. The Cleopatra necklace is an iconic example, a multi-layered radiating collar style featuring vivid colors such as lapis, carnelian and pure gold. Crown jewels throughout the ages make an unabashed statement of royalty. In the 19th century Cartier’s jewelers fashioned magnificent gems from the rich treasuries of Indian maharajas into elaborate crown jewels proclaiming their princely status. During the Renaissance necklaces featuring sumptuous gems, pearls and gold adorned monarchs including Queen Elizabeth I and her father Henry VIII. Today Hollywood “royalty” mirrors this ultimate fashion statement with their exuberant creations such as Eva Mendes’ stunning Van Cleef & Arpels turquoise and diamond collar worn at the 2009 Golden Globe Awards.
How to best capitalize on this emerging trend? Feature a fabulous statement piece or two in your window. Display pictures of celebrities adorned with spectacular necklaces. Customers after holding back for years may be looking for a way to express themselves more exuberantly. The edginess of the statement piece adds just the right twist to make the trend in step with the times. Help shape this emerging desire. For important clients suggest a unique fabulous statement piece expressing her individuality. For other customers offer more moderately priced alternatives with the same attitude. Make your own statement as you help your clients to express themselves. Remember spring is just around the corner and fashion is fun!