Making a break from tradition

Not your grandmother's classic simple strand of white, the pearl necklace now sports a modern, even playful and edgy vibe. Take them formal or casual; these pearls are made to go high, low or in between. Here, modern designers put their stamps on the traditional pearl necklace.

Mignot St. Barth Designer Yvan Mignot travels to French Polynesia to hand-pick his pearls, here elegantly mixed with hand-crafted leather and a gold-plated brass drop ring. $975. Available at


Nektar De Stagni Miami and New York designer Nektar De Stagni's clever Smiley Emoticon freshwater pearl necklace is decorated with black pave crystal that brings a smile. $455. (It also comes with a gold ball instead of a pearl for $379.) Available at

Cathy Waterman The Los Angeles designer's delicate Marquis freshwater pearl necklace has a tiny platinum and diamond leaf-drop and 22-karat gold chain. $3,900. Available at or

Tom Binns Tom Binns' Jackie Ouch pearl necklace is his imaginative take on the conservative pearl strand. A 24-karat gold-plated barbed wire motif is mixed with white Swarovski crystal pearls. $990. Available at

Rosantica Italian designer Michela Panero brings power to pearls with her handmade gold-dipped Osiris necklace bib. $845. Available at

Kara Ross The designer brings some edge to a sterling silver mother-of-pearl maze locket zigzagged in white sapphires. $1,850. Available at the Kara Ross Store in New York, (212) 755-8100 or

Ippolita Italian artist and designer Ippolita Rostagno's modern, cool disc pendant is made of mother-of-pearl and 18-karat gold. $3,995. Available at

Vibe's The Titania necklace from Danish designer and goldsmith Lene Vibe Dahlgren features a white South Sea pearl covered with delicate 18-karat gold flowers and diamonds. $7,110. Available at

Oscar de la Renta A rusticated coral branch necklace of crystals, glass and resin pearls is plated in an exclusive Russian gold. $595. Available at

Carole Shashona From her Black Diamond Collection, Carole Shashona's Noir Lotus necklace has Tahitian black pearls, diamond trimmed coins and a black pave diamond lotus-shaped pendant. $7,000. Available at