Joc Pederson of the San Francisco Giants has popularized wearing pearl necklaces among Major League Baseball players.
Many high-profile men are breaking gender stereotypes by adorning pearls. From necklaces to bracelets and rings to earrings, celebrities including rappers, baseball players, musicians and actors are wearing pearls. The past year has seen pearls become a huge trend among men in different settings and many believe the trend is here to stay. Drake and Harry Styles have been seen sporting pearls. Models on runways have also been seen wearing them often. So have baseball players, especially Joc Pederson of the San Francisco Giants. Fashion experts say it is a sign of the evolution of the fashion industry and its embrace of gender fluidity, reported CNN.
Jewelry sellers say the pandemic has helped the trend come to the fore because of Zoom-style communication. "Men's jewelry was starting to take off pre-pandemic. Then as soon as the shutdown happened and we started to live in this virtual world, it quickly became about how can he wardrobe from the neck up, just the same as the search to find Zoom-worthy jewelry for women," said Angie Kennedy, vice president of merchandising at Zales, a division of Signet (SIG), the largest jewelry company in the U.S. Kennedy believes Major League Baseball players played a huge role in pushing pearls as an accessory for men. "In the last baseball season, we saw baseball players come to the field with pearl necklaces on. It just solidified the trend for us," said Kennedy.
They aren't just wearing pearls in a string but mixing it up. Adding diamonds to a pearl necklace or stringing pearls on a gold chain are some of the trends among celebrities. Some even have skulls, nailheads or animal claws with pearls. "Some [men] are wearing a matching bracelet as well," said Kennedy. The industry is also responding to the trend by incorporating unconventional materials such as leather. Pearls aren't limited to white color either and come in loud colors including pink and black. Kennedy adds that even bolder designs are meant to be gender-neutral. "She might wear it on a Friday night and he's wearing it out to a game on Saturday. What used to be worn in a much more formal manner can now be worn with a T-shirt," she said.
Gabe Arik's business Happy Jewelers has specialized in making jewelry for baseball players for over two decades, reported SI. Arik says Pederson was the one who started the new fashion statement in baseball. Joc Pederson messaged him about the idea. “I want to do something really different. I want to make a nice fashion statement," said Pederson, before adding, "And I’m thinking about pearls.” Arik replied, "Pearl necklaces are for, you know, women.” Pederson wasn't to be deterred. “He said, ‘That’s what I want to do,’” recalled Arik. “And that’s what we did.” Angie Kennedy believes there's another reason behind the resurgence of pearls following the pandemic. "When things are scary, people tend to go back to things that are classic or timeless. Pearls have been around for a while and will be around. They almost represent strength in a way," said Kennedy. "Every idea we come across we're now thinking about how can we make it more gender fluid." Many top jewelers are now cashing in on the new trend.
Japanese jewelry company Mikimoto recently launched the "Passion Noir pearl collection," which is edgier than their other works of pearl. While many may view it as a new trend, Yasuhiko Hashimoto, CEO of Mikimoto America, says it's nothing but an old trend reemerging. Hashimoto said pearls were often worn by Indian Maharajas and British and European kings. "A pearl was a symbol of power," he said. "It continues to be timeless and elegant but can also be playful. Men today feel empowered to take risks with fashion and are trying new things."