Strands define new speaker's classic style


Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 23, 2007 at 12:35 a.m.
They're now being called Power Pearls.
As worn by Nancy Pelosi, a strand of pearls now represents elegant authority - a description that's also been used to describe the congresswoman, the first female Speaker of the House.
As the highest-ranking woman in the country, Pelosi's recent fashion choices have been scrutinized almost as much as her political profile. While media pundits and bloggers have debated the color of her Armani suits and the rotation of her Italian shoes-Ferragamo? Manolo? - it's been her double-digit millimeter South Seas and Tahitian pearls that have garnered the most attention.
Especially the mixed-color strand of marble-sized spheres she favors with dark suits and tweeds.
"It's 'unmatronly' and unique. It shows she's not afraid of innovation, and that's a powerful image," says Eve Alfille, a jewelry designer and founder of the Pearl Society who estimates them to be 13 to 14 millimeters in size.
The much-photographed necklace was worn to a news conference the day after her re-election in November and soon after, a pearl wholesaler was fielding dozens of calls for the style, according to the Los Angeles Times. The highest quality strand of similar pearls can cost $20,000 to $80,000.
Earlier this month, the colorful pearls made an appearance at an event honoring the late former Texas governor Ann Richards.
John Loring, Tiffany & Co. design director, says that wearing pearls has been a symbol of powerful women for more than 2,000 years. In his book, "Tiffany Pearls," Loring notes that pearls have been the mark of wealth, rank and power for both men and women throughout history.
Whether Pelosi meant to cultivate a signature look, she's done so with her collection of pearl accessories.
While the multicolored strand is the most striking of her neck adornments, Pelosi also wears a less ostentatious, four-strand necklace of small black pearls. She wore them on election night with a dove gray suit and a collarless shirt.
When she took the ceremonial gavel in the U.S. Capitol, what set off her burgundy suit was a classic strand of South Seas golden pearls, the color of celebration.

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