Why you keep seeing pearls everywhere you go

For decades, pearls were a classic symbol of elegance and sophistication, seen in the office, around town, at home, and just about everywhere else. Your mom probably owned some, and her mom owned some. Maybe you were even lucky enough to have a vintage set passed down to you at some point. But as with all fashion accessories, pearls faded into the abyss for quite some time, seen as old-fashioned and perhaps even antiquated. But not anymore.

If it feels like you’ve been seeing a lot more of this traditional gemstone lately, rest assured you’re not losing your mind. Fashion is ditching diamonds and looking to pearls to fill the gap, Millennials and Hollywood’s A-listers are fueling a surge in demand for pearl jewelry, and this mainstream classic is once again in the midst of an epic fashion comeback. Vogue, Elle, Allure and Vanity Fair have even gone as far as saying that pearls are in the middle of a renaissance.

But fashion aside, there’s another reason you’re seeing a lot more pearls lately: a movement called Pinned by Pearls.

The Women’s Suffrage Movement is the inspiration behind the vintage pearl pins being worn on red carpets by celebrity men this year under the Pinned by Pearls brand. Those who wear the inspirational pearl jewelry pieces are pledging to actively look for projects directed, written, and produced by and starring women, as well as other marginalized voices.

According to the movement’s website, pearls were selected because they represent how something beautiful can form from a single grain of sand. For some added background: The pearl hat pin was chosen to represent the movement because of its historical connection to the suffering and empowerment of women. Historically, hat pins were a very important symbol of the suffragette movement, where women fought hard to win the right to vote in public elections. These pins, with their “deadly” points, were said to have been chosen as defensive weapons of choice for women. They were eventually outlawed in the early 1900s in numerous US cities.

Pinned by Pearls says “the small actions of taking this pledge can be a first step towards industry-wide change. We chose these vintage pins both for their symbolism and their sustainability. By connecting to history, we want to honor the long-fought battle for equality in this country. In finding a new use for old objects, we aim for a small environmental footprint, and to shed light on the unrecognized tools all around us.”

Quite a few actors have been seen sporting pearl pins on the red carpets, from the Golden Globes to the SAG Awards. Tom Hanks has been particularly vocal about his support for the movement, among other male celebrities.

Luckily, pearls have also found their way off of the red carpet, too, and the gemstone – worn by women and men alike – now has a powerful meaning beyond Hollywood (one of the reasons why you’re seeing so much pearl jewelry lately). Pearl stud earrings have been flying off the shelves for many online retailers, as have necklaces, bracelets, broaches, and the likes. One retailer, Laguna Pearl, has seen a noticeable uptick in sales over the last few months, at least in some part due to the movement, it says.

Will the movement stick around? It’s likely. Will pearls continue to be the symbol of women’s rights and equality? If their popularity and surging sales are any indications, it’s also highly likely. Regardless, we can get behind what the movement stands for.