As a lover of pearls, I couldn’t help but notice that Toni Morrison too had a love of pearls. When Toni made her transition last year I wanted to honor her in a way that was dear to me and in which I could include others. I thought let’s honor Toni by wearing her favorite gems, pearls, on her birthday.
We all know how brilliant Toni is with words, and in scholarship. Her delivery is decidedly different, unique in every story she’s ever told, but I observed this difference in her choice of pearls too.
Many a sophisticated woman prefer Akoya style pearls in which every pearl is even and perfectly cylindrical shaped with the cream de la cream being white, Japanese Miki Moto pearls. While Toni had the means to purchase any kind of pearls, it was not surprising that Toni’s preference, particularly in her later years, seemed to be that of baroque pearls, pearls of non-uniformity, where the uniqueness of every pearl was the point. Not to say that Toni didn’t wear Akoya pearls, because I’ve seen photos of her in all kinds of pearls.
It is said that no two pearls are exactly alike, and this is all the more true when it comes to baroque pearls, the pearls that Toni most often wore. Not only did she wear baroque pearls, but Toni also wore gray baroque pearls, adding another layer of different-ness to her pearls of choice. In this way, as in so many ways, Toni is a woman after my very own heart, ever the maverick, she isn’t impressed by convention.
When I first began wearing pearls, I was so thrilled to be able to afford real pearls, and purchase them from a black-owned business, that it never dawned on me that there were different shapes and colors. After a while, I did notice that the Akoya pearls seemed to have more of a conservative look, my choice in style is everything but conservative. After purchasing different lengths and sizes of white and then pink Akoya pearls, it was time to mix it up. First, I began wearing my different pearls together to have a more creative look. Then I went in search of different colors and different shapes, Tahitian pearls, baroque pearls, etc. Now that I create jewelry with pearls, my love of pearls has been taken to a new level.
When Toni first appeared on the screen of her documentary, The Pieces That I Am,(which can now be seen on Amazon Prime) I was mesmerized, not only by Toni but by that the stunning gray baroque pearl necklaces Toni wore throughout the film. The pearls were so different that I wasn’t sure they were pearls at all. I thought the necklace might be made of metal. I called two friends who were close to Toni, Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin, a scholar who was featured in the film on Toni, and Toni’s stylist and makeup artist, Jackie Sanchez to confirm whether or not Toni’s necklace was indeed, pearls.
I am hoping you will join me in celebrating Toni in this way on her birthday, by wearing pearls. It doesn’t matter what kind of pearls you wear. Whichever kind of pearls that float your boat, are perfectly fine. When you put on your pearls on the day this Goddess was born, offer up a prayer, or poem, an essay or anything you may have always wanted to say to Toni. Let’s honor this illustrious ancestor with the gems of the Great Mother, that of the pearl.
You don’t have to go out and purchase new pearls. Wear what you already have, but if you’re in the market to get something new. As the weeks go by leading up to Toni’s birthday, which is February 18th, I will be adding more choices to our pearl page. Check them out if you’re so inclined. Anu Essentials Baroque Pearls