Chanel's pearl necklace

Getty Images
09 March 2016

While her clothing designs were known for their subtle palate and simplicity, Coco Chanel’s taste in jewelry was bold and theatritical. She was rarely seen without a heaping pile of pearls around her neck. With her fake pearls and gold fever, she was the one that brought faux jewelry to the mainstream crowds. 

Unusual pearls  
Before Coco Chanel introduced costume jewelry, faux jewelry was only worn by those who could not afford real jewelry. Next to this, piling on rope upon rope of pearls during the day, was something that an upperclass lady would never do. Big pieces of jewelry were only worn when wearing a ballgown. Even though Coco Chanel owned many expensive jewelry pieces she always combined her expensive jewelry with faux ones. She stated: “It’s disgusting to walk around with millions dollars around the neck because one happens to be rich. I only like fake jewelry because it’s provocative”. 


A hot fashion trend
And with this statement Chanel brilliantly turned the undesirable costume jewelry into a fashion trend. She was the first designer to introduce large faux pearl pieces. Coco reasoned that if women could buy something more affordable than real jewelry, they could properly accessorize every outfit they had, rather than sticking with a few simple pieces. “Costume jewelry is not made to give women an aura of wealth, but to make them beautiful” she said.

Happy customers
Her customers loved it as the people who could not afford expensive jewelry could now shamelessly wear affordable faux pearls, while wealthy clients could be completely comfortable wearing Chanel costume jewelry, without having to display their expensive items in public.