When it comes to jewelry, it doesn’t get more classic than pearls. For decades, everyone from iconic celebrities to everyday women have worn the gemstone as an elegant accessory to finish their look. While for many pearls may only be reminiscent of the jewelry loved by generations past, the timeless classic is for anyone. There are so many different sizes,shapes, contemporary designs, and styles available today that you can make it completely your own.

From polished to playful, here’s how to wear and style different kinds of pearl jewelry.

Inspired by the Sea

With pearls being made by mollusks, like clams, oysters, and mussels, it’s only fitting that you wear pearls featuring a look that was inspired by these saltwater and freshwater friends. Perfect for that tropical vacation style, beach earrings are a playfully modern take on classic pearls. Rather than the simple pearl jewelry styles you’re used to, you can wear colors and fun designs inspired by the sea, which make for a great conversation starter.

Even if you’re not at the resort, you can still feel like it. Pair your earrings with bold island prints and colors for weekends out with friends, then wear them with your best blazer for weekdays at work to bring a piece of the beach with you!

Modern Layers

Who says that pearls have to be worn on their own? For style with subtle luxury, try layering your pearl jewelry with your gold or silver chain jewelry. Grab different lengths and weights of necklaces, and mix and match them with a delicate strand of pearls. Even if you don’t have metal jewelry, the beauty of pearls is that they pair well with most pieces—and other gemstones. Have fun with it! There’s no need to save those pearls for a special occasion, either.

Pro tip: Style your pearls with your basics. Modern layers will elevate any basic tee, jeans, or sweatshirt in an instant.

Perfectly Polished

Pearls are simple and elegant, making them an effortless way to add some polish to any outfit, whether it’s giving total glam or everyday casual. For this look, you’re going to want to keep things simple. The goal is to either let the pearls serve as the statement piece or as a complementary accessory.

Opt for a more traditional style of a white pearl necklace or earrings to achieve a classy and refined look for formal occasions. To achieve a polished everyday look, slip on your pearls with an ensemble that has clean lines and simple prints. If you’re looking for a bit of edge along with your polish, try black pearls instead of the classic white.

Add Playful Color

If you’ve been hesitant to wear pearls because you think they’re too old-fashioned or simplistic for you, think again!  Like diamonds, you can find pearls in tons of different colors—not just the traditional white. This provides the perfect opportunity to play around with your unique style.

Add a pop of color to a neutral, monochrome ensemble, go bold with color head to toe, or you could even layer different colors of necklaces or bracelets for something casual chic!

Experiment with Shape and Size

​​When you think of pearls, one of the first things that likely come to mind are the small, round pearls that the 1950s and ‘60s style icons wore. But did you know that pearls can also come in varying sizes and fun shapes like teardrops, buttons, ovals, abstract shapes, and more? Depending on your preferences and mood, you can experiment with shape and size to achieve any look from polished to playful.

Teardrop pearl earrings are an elegant complement to any special or formal occasion, from work conference outfits to wedding guest attire. Abstract pearl necklaces, especially those in vibrant colors, provide an effortless way to give your everyday look a modern refresh. The number one rule with shape and size is that there are no rules!

Sleek and Simple

Minimalism isn’t just for home design. If you want a piece of simple, minimalistic jewelry that will work for any and every occasion, pearls are just what you’ve been looking for. As great as they are for serving up the glitz and glam, they’ll also give you the discreet polish of modern minimalist jewelry. To achieve this look, try spherical or teardrop pearls, like stud earrings or a pearl pendant necklace. Just one piece is all you’ll need before you head to the office or a night out.

Pearls for Contemporary Style

Whether you already have pearls that have been sitting in your jewelry box that you have no idea how to wear or you’re looking to get inspired, know that pearls never go out of style. Though it can be found in extremely versatile shapes and designs and styled in numerous ways, you don’t need to overthink it. Go with what you like and what works for your lifestyle, and you can’t go wrong.

About the Author

Tess DiNapoli is an artist, freelance writer, and content strategist. She has a passion for yoga and often writes about health and wellness, but also enjoys covering the fashion industry and world of fitness.