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Pearls Fit for An Icon
Pearl Scene

Whenever the trend is for pearls, they seem to be everywhere, from fashion jewelry to the collections of the top luxury brands. But if there's one brand where pearls are a major component of the brand DNA, it's Chanel.

Pearls garnered center attention when the Paris-based fashion house premiered its annual haute joaillerie collection, "Les Perles de Chanel," a spectacular collection of one-of-a-kind pieces with retails from $29,000 to $450,000.

While Benjamin Comar, international director of Chanel's fine jewelry, says that cultured pearls often are used in the haute joaillerie collections, this year pearls, including South Sea and Tahitian varieties, are the featured gem.

"We see pearls trending, so we decided to create a collection that features them," says Comar. "Pearls are part of the culture of Chanel. They are as identifiable to the Chanel brand as our suits."

Chanel's founder and designer, Coco Chanel, loved pearls. "Mademoiselle Chanel had a secret affinity with pearls, often wearing them as a talisman," he says. According to one legendary story, when Chanel was dancing the Charleston in the 1920s, her two meter-long pearl necklace suddenly broke, scattering the pearls. A dozen men in smoking jackets scrambled to gather up the gems.

Although Coco Chanel was closely identified with pearls, her everyday accessories were often faux pearls, a concept she helped to popularize. Later with the assistance of master jewelers such as Verdura, Coco Chanel developed fine jewelry pieces. The latest collection takes the pearl and combines it with other emblems of the Chanel brand. Clusters of diamonds, some in camellia designs, spiral around the pearls in designs reminiscent of the 1930s.

To maintain the connection to its founder, the company photographed its brand ambassador, Anna Mouglalis, in Mademoiselle Chanel's actual apartment at 31 Rue Cambon. Comar says the collection is touring the world, hitting Chanel stores in Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, Paris, Monte Carlo, London, and this fall, New York.

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Jewelry by Chanel
All jewelry by Chanel, (800) 550-0005.
Coco Chanel
Coco Chanel in 1934.
© Photo by Cecil Beaton