Pearl, the June birthstone, has always had universal appeal. A simple strand of pearls has been the go-to jewelry accessory for generations of women everywhere.
Until the late 19th century, Oriental pearls (those produced by the pearl oyster in sea water ) were regarded as more precious than diamonds, because collecting a perfectly-matched string of pearls took years. Fortunately for most of us, artificial pearls have been used in jewelry since the Renaissance. They were first made in France, the producer that remained in the forefront until the mid-20th century. Aside from the cost factor, artificial pearls have enabled designers to create imaginative and beautiful pieces that we would never see in precious jewelry, even if we could afford them.
One of the most notable 20th century French makers of artificial pearls was Louis Rousselet, who started business in 1922. His factory became a major source of handmade beads worldwide until the late 1960s. This Louis Rousselet necklace and earrings set is a stunning example of 1950s French costume jewelry. The designer has artfully enhanced four strands of baroque pearls in various sizes with the addition of blown-glass beads in gemstone colors and rhinestone rondelles. The faux amethyst, sapphire, emerald and ruby beads make this piece incredibly versatile. Simply choose which color you wish to emphasize and repeat it in clothing and/or other accessories. Here are four very different outfits put together with the types of pieces you may already have in your closet and this exquisite necklace. Each look is designed to make you feel extraordinary!
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