Look out diamonds – you might no longer be a girl’s best friend. Fashion is embracing a new gemstone with open arms, and you just might already have some in your jewelry box.

The elegant pearl is once again in the midst of an epic fashion comeback. You can probably thank Hollywood’s A-Listers and Millennials for that. From Rihanna and Taylor Swift to Kim Kardashian and Ivanka Trump, you don’t have to look far to find pearls in the spotlight. Even a non-conformist like Lady Gaga, with one of the most unique styles on the planet, can’t seem to break away from what was 2017’s hottest gemstone by far.

But just how the heck do you buy pearls, and how can you really get started with a collection of your own? Here are some tips to do just that.

Keep it Simple

Perhaps the most important piece of advice when you set out to your shopping. Remember, there’s no need to dive in with an investment of hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Pearl experts and fashion designers recommend you get your start with a simple pair of pearl earrings. Your best bet? Get online and fined a trusted pearl dealer (make sure to read the reviews and do your research). You can save a significant amount by ordering online over traditional, brick-and-mortar stores. And if you’re looking to save a little cash, start with freshwater pearls. Today’s freshwater selection is typically high quality and just as beautiful as anything else you’ll find, but at a fraction of the price.

Educate Yourself

Not all pearls are created equal. From Golden South Sea to Tahitian Black pearls, do your research. There are likely a lot more types of pearls than you’re probably aware of, and each come with their own list of benefits and price tags. And while we’re on the subject, pearls come in all sorts of colors and shades, so find something that works well with your skin tone and suits your style. About 30 minutes worth of research will arm you with enough information to make a quality purchase decision – you don’t need to be an expert, but you need to do your homework!

Speaking of education, most people have no idea what mother of pearl is. If you’re shopping for jewelry and you wind up searching for mother of pearl, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. It sounds basic, but a quick Google search can help clear up any misunderstandings. This blog by The Pearl Source is also a good resource.

Skip the Fakes

There’s a time and a place for costume jewelry. With pearls, go real or go home. Fake pearls look and feel cheap. They don’t glow or shine like the real thing, and you’re not going to pull off the look successfully if skimp.

That said, there’s nothing wrong with cultured or freshwater pearls. In fact, the cultured pearl industry is buzzing, and you can get high-quality pearls for a fraction of the price of their natural counterparts. Laguna Pearl offers a nice selection.

Go Casual

Pearls have shaken their conservative, formal reputation. Try pairing different colors with dressed down styles. Tahitian black gemstones go well with denim – and for that matter so do traditional shades of white. Blues and greens work well for the spring, especially when paired with floral patterns. Don’t be afraid to shop for pearls strung on leather and even twine. It’s a great way to dress down pearls.

Less is More

Thick, chunky jewelry is out of style. What’s even more out of style? Layering those same thick, chunky pieces. It looks clunky and unsophisticated. Instead, pick long strands of pearls of smaller size for a chic yet edgy look. For bracelets, you can layer pearls just about however you wish. One thing most people don’t consider, though, is how their pearl bracelets are strung.

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