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Chinese actress Ni Ni shows pearl necklaces are hot again – 6 cool new ways to wear them now

Think pearls are conservative and traditional? We beg to differ. They are a classic, no doubt about that, and increasingly becoming a trendy fashion staple.

Chinese actress Ni Ni shows pearl necklaces are hot again – 6 cool new ways to wear them now

Chinese actress Ni Ni shows the cool new way to wear a pearl necklace. (Photo: twitter/@ninivarchive)

Pearls have long been appreciated for their sophisticated, elegant appeal, but can they be modern, trendy and edgy too? Absolutely.

Chinese actress Ni Ni, who also happens to be Gucci's global brand ambassador, recently flaunted some seriously eye-catching OOTDs accessorised with pearl jewellery on social media, and captured the fashion media’s attention when she wore them to the recent premiere of Lost In The Stars, a movie she starred in.

Clearly, the Chinese celebrity favoured Tahitian pearls of unmissable proportions. While her pearls are undeniably gorgeous, what specifically stood out are the unexpected ways in which she styled them, pairing them with casual togs including tees, oversized cardigans and shirts, and even denims.

In fact, matching pearls with casual looks is an on-going trend that began last year, worn with street-style ensembles or stacked with other types of jewellery. Essentially, the new way to wear pearls is not to pair them with anything you’d typically associate them with.

Want to know how to infuse pearls with a contemporary edge? Here are some suggestions from a fashion expert as well as essential knowledge about buying them.


Pearls come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, colours, and if you’ve never bought them, it is advisable to do some research and price comparison before you jump right into an expensive purchase. The price of pearls can vary greatly, as they are valued according to their quality, shape, and can be affected by demand and supply. Pearl jewellery can cost as little as under S$100 and go all the way up to five-figure sums even, depending on the nature and number of pearls used in the design.

There are two categories of pearls to choose from: Freshwater and saltwater pearls. The latter are generally quite a bit more costly than the former, because they are known to have a better lustre and are more scarce in terms of supply. This doesn’t mean that all freshwater pearls are cheap and that all saltwater pearls are extremely expensive – prices are dependent on the grade of quality, which will vary within each category.

What you should know is that the majority of pearls in the market – be they freshwater or saltwater – are cultured, which means that they are grown via human intervention, either via the introduction of a nucleus or other methods. So don’t be put off by the fact that they are cultured, as high-grade natural pearls are extremely hard to come by these days.

How much you want to spend on pearl jewellery is, of course, tied to your budget as well as how you’re going to wear them. If they are intended for everyday wear, it might be a good idea to go for something more affordable, which you can wear casually and with other types of jewellery without being overly concerned about damage and maintenance.


Pearls, undeniably, have had somewhat of a mumsy repute – hands up, if you’ve ever bought them for your mother, thinking they are better suited for older women.

But fashion stylist Kelly Hsu thinks that they have shaken off that image in recent years and are trendy and versatile enough to suit women – and even men – of all ages, as long as you know how to style them. 

“Fashion is subjective – the most important thing is to wear pearl jewellery in a way that reflects your personal style and makes you feel confident and fabulous,” she said. Need some ideas? Here, she suggests a number of different ways in which pearls can be worn stylishly.

1. More is more

“Experiment with layering different lengths of pearl necklaces, pearls in different sizes, or combining them with chains and pendants to add dimension and texture to your overall look. Create a bohemian feel by stacking and mixing pearl bracelets with other elements – such as other bracelets in silver or gold – to create visual interest.”

2. Classic is always chic

“If you’re more of a minimalist, simple pearl stud earrings or a delicate pearl pendant necklace can add a touch of elegance without being too flashy.” You won’t go wrong, too, by taking a cue from classic fashion icons like Gabrielle Chanel or Audrey Hepburn and wearing a strand of good-sized pearls and pearl stud earrings with a simple black top or dress.

3. Break away from the circle

“Don't hesitate to wear different shapes of pearls together, such as classic round pearls with baroque or keshi pearls, for a unique and eclectic style. Irregular-shaped pearls like the latter two are gaining popularity for their organic, artistic appeal. These kinds of designs are seen as a more unconventional and modern alternative to round pearls.”

4. Look beyond white pearls

Genuine pearls come in a variety of hues, from pink, peach, gold, purple to the beautiful iridescent grey, peacock-green and black of expensive Tahitian pearls. They can be an interesting, unconventional choice, instead of the classic white or cream-coloured pearl. Tahitian pearls, in particular, have a fashionable and modern look, and are a good option for men too.

5. Go casual

Pearls don’t strictly have to be worn with formal evening wear, although they go together perfectly. “Experiment by wearing your pearls with unexpected clothing materials or styles, like Ni Ni did. Try combining them with leather jackets or distressed denim, to achieve a carefree, youthful and edgy look.” The easiest way to do this? Wear a pearl necklace with a white tee and jeans for an effortlessly chic ensemble.

6. Think big, bold and unconventional

Go for large-sized pearls, if you want to make an instant fashion statement. Bold and eye-catching pearl jewellery styles such as an oversized earring or chunky necklace are popular with the fashion-forward,” said Hsu. Alternatively, you can try pearl jewellery in non-traditional designs, such as asymmetrical earrings or necklaces, bracelets and rings that pair pearls with chunky chains or other gemstones besides diamonds.

Source: CNA/yy