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The luxe allure of shells and coral

Updated: Jan 29, 2019

Perhaps one of the earliest forms of personal adornment, seashells and corals have been elevated to a whole new level of luxe.

Brass shell necklace with Swarovski crystals from Milana Stile

Shells invoke nostalgia for the beautiful summer days, sea breeze and beach sunsets. Mysterious creations of nature, they are an epitome of nonchalant chic. Modern day luxury lies in the ability to not take yourself too seriously.  It is about lightness of being, carefree approach to appearance, irony in opposition to heaviness.  And seashell jewelry gives just the right touch of aloofness to the most conservative of dresses, creating a light and whimsical silhouette. 


Brass enamel painted faux coral cross with pearl from Milana Stile






Where seashells radiate whimsy, corals embody grandeur. It is one of the most ancient gems that has been used in jewelry for thousands of years. Legends have it that coral came from the dried blood of gorgons.  In particular, the corals of the Red Sea were said to have been formed of Medusa's blood spilled onto seaweed when Perseus laid down her petrifying head beside the shore.   As such, coral is believed to possess talismanic and magical powers, and in Southern Italy it is still used to ward off bad luck. Corals were prized by clerics and princes, and featured prominently in personal adornment during the Renaissance and Baroque period. 



Yves Saint Laurent, the epitome of French luxurious chic, had a special penchant for shells and coral.  From 1962 through 2002, YSL jewelry collections feature both in various forms: as extravagant necklaces with multiple or twisted strands, arranged in clusters adorned with sections of diamanté, transposed into a different material (bronze, wood, ceramic), used in earrings, manchette bracelets and statement rings. 



This season, Alexander Michele put his signature over-the-top spin on shell jewelry as seen on Gucci Cruise 2019 runway. As did Alexander McQueen, drawing inspiration from oyster shells. Side note: our favorite, cameo jewelry, is also making a debut this season. More on that in later posts.



Whether outrageous or demure, shells and corals will make you stand out in any season. They are timeless!

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