The secret of Kamala Harris pearls



Pearls have long been used by politicians and first ladies all over the world. Spanish Queen Letizia, Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton wear them regularly.


Kamala Harris has used pearls on many occasions, for example at the presidential debate in Detroit or at her first speech on the senate floor.

Her Black Pearl Necklace, indeed, is everywhere.


During most of human history, black pearl necklaces were not commonly used, and white natural pearls fished from the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean were the desirable norm for Jewelry.

Kamla Harris wearing a Pearl Necklace

 

The Spanish and Portuguese navigators who visited Tahiti observed some curious spherical gems carried by the natives. There was little or no demand for these curious black gems, and it was not until Tahiti became a French protectorate that they reached the European market.


These pearls, stranger than white, soon aroused great interest in French society, and a new trend was born.


It was not until Salvador Assael, the current reference jeweler in the world of pearls, who imported 18 necklaces from Tahiti and sold them to a New York jeweler that the trend exploded.


Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier, and Tiffany picked up the scent, and soon New York fashionistas were paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for the latest must-have dark gem. These were, of course, cultured black pearls. But displayed in the Fifth Avenue windows of celebrity jewelers, they were presented as the almost priceless results of a partnership with nature. Advertisements announced, “A New Gem is Born.”


She proudly wears a single-strand pearl necklace and drop earrings in her 1986 graduation picture from Howard University, where she was part of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. AKA—the first Black Greek-letter sorority—has a legendary story in which they refer to their founding members and incorporators as the “Twenty Pearls.” Each new member is given a special badge decorated with 20 pearls upon initiation. It’s not unusual for a sorority to have its own symbolic elements—Kappa Alpha Theta has the kite, Delta Gamma the anchor—but the pearl may be the most wearable of them all.

But Kamala Harris' interest in tahitian pearls does not stem from a posh New York trend.

Kamala Harris wearing a Tahitian Pearl Necklace

 

She proudly wears a single-strand pearl necklace and drop earrings in her 1986 graduation picture from Howard University, where she was part of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. AKA—the first Black Greek-letter sorority—has a legendary story in which they refer to their founding members and incorporators as the “Twenty Pearls.” Each new member is given a special badge decorated with 20 pearls upon initiation. It’s not unusual for a sorority to have its own symbolic elements—Kappa Alpha Theta has the kite, Delta Gamma the anchor—but the pearl may be the most wearable of them all.

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