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Girl with a Pearl Necklace

Vermeer understood pearls better than anyone—their radiance and endless fascination. For him, it was a simple earring. For us, it's something a strand grander.

According to Persian lore, pearls—called children of light—are tears of the gods that have been transformed into jewels by oysters in the depths of the sea. A necklace of Akoya pearls with round and pear-shaped bezel-set diamonds mounted in platinum. $100,000, from Mikimoto (888-701-2323). Three-strand pink pearl scarf with matching tassels. $16,500, from Asprey & Garrard (800-883-2777). Necklace of South Sea button-shaped pearls with round diamonds mounted in 18-karat white gold. $30,500, from Bielka, Inc. (800-848-3904).


Magical Realism

The ancient Chinese believed that dew from the jaws of the rain god, nurtured by moonlight, metamorphosed into pearls. A Tahitian baroque pearl necklace with adjustable 18-karat white gold clasp. $40,000, from Tamara Comolli (877-596-4367). From the waters of northwestern Australia, a strand of South Sea pearls with platinum and pavé diamond clasp. $350,000, from Ellagem (212-398-0101).


Love Beads

The Greeks and Romans identified the birth of the goddess of love with the creation of the pearl. A ca. 1910 French seed pearl, diamond, and platinum sautoir. $36,000, from Stephen Russell (212-570-6900). South Sea white, golden, and Tahitian pearls with gold and diamond rondelles. $26,000, from Tom Wing & Sons (888-775-5233). Tahitian pearls with diamond and platinum clasp. Price upon request, from Harry Winston (800-988-4110). Ca. 1910 natural baroque pearl necklace. $28,000, from Primavera Gallery (212-288-1569).