Q&A: Louise Tippey on pearl jewellery trends

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Louise Tippey, founder of the British Pearl Association, talks to Professional Jeweller about the pearl jewellery market.

How has pearl adorned jewellery evolved over the last 12 months?

Pearls are still very much at the forefront of British design with designers such as Melanie Georgacopoulos and Shaun Leane. Overall there is definitely a preference for more cool, fashionable on trend pearls.

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There has also been a rise in colours and unique shapes. Baroque pearls are currently high in demand from jewellery designers looking to create unique statement pieces. Baroque pearls have fascinating shapes and are often used at the centre and the design is constructed around it.

What popular pearl jewellery trends have you noticed this year?

In 2015 black pearls were more popular , whereas 2016 saw a slight move away from Black Sea pearls (possibly due to fashion and  decreased production) to white and coloured. Graduated pearls also came back in fashion.

Single pearls on gold bands have been popular for rings and small wristwear. Or even multiple pearl rings across fingers. Long dangling pearl earrings have also been hugely popular, while the pearl jacket has remained in demand too.

What challenges do brands and designers working with pearl jewellery face?

There are two levels of challenges — the bigger picture for the industry and the micro level for the designers using the pearl gem in their design.

Big picture challenges include low consumer awareness surrounding pearls. We need to raise awareness about pearls and need to change the old fashioned image of pearls. There is also no global grading system for pearls and other challenges include rising prices, global warming affecting production and responsible sourcing.

Micro challenges include pearls being delicate to work with and as a brand/designer, you need to decide whether to fit the pearl into the piece or start with the pearl as the centre and go from there.

What advice would you give to budding pearl designers?

Be different and explore all types of pearls and shapes and sizes. Look for pearls with high lustre and remember minor imperfections in a pearl are ok as they won’t be seen when worn.

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