If you’ve been keeping an eye on street style, chances are you’ve noticed that pearls are having a moment. While a string of pearls have long held a connotation for being stuffy, the new crop of accessories, often featuring single irregular-shaped pearls, are more Carrie Bradshaw than Charlotte York.
Oversized pearl earrings have been spotted recently on both Zendaya and Gigi Hadid, and Ashley Graham is a fan of pearl pendants. But it’s in the beauty sphere where pearls are really making an unexpected appearance—it’s impossible to scroll through Instagram without seeing a pearl hair clip, arguably the must-have accessory of the season, or headband, and now the trend has evolved into pearl nail art.
Think about it: Pearls are the perfect accent. They’re not as expected as diamonds, yet add a cool touch without being too flashy. And, like a French manicure mirrors the 2000s nostalgia movement in fashion, pearl manis are directly inspired by what’s happening in our jewelry boxes. The look is also surprisingly versatile, go for a single stone if you’re a minimalist, or go all the way with gem-encrusted nails on all five fingers. “Adding small pearl is easy, and you don’t need to be very savvy with a paint brush,” says nail artist Betina Goldstein, whose renditions of pearl nail art ideas have racked up thousands of likes on Instagram. “It allows you to play with color, design, or gems without overwhelming your look or hands.”
While the trend is probably easier to get if you take a photo into the salon, if you want to go the DIY route, Goldstein has some advice. “Start by painting your nails with a sheer nude like Essie in Gossamer Garments, then apply nail glue on your nail, where you want the gem to go,” she says, adding that tweezers make it easier to have full control over where you’re placing your pearls. “Cap it by applying more glue on top and then paint over it with a top coat to ensure the pearls don’t get caught in your hair.” Another helpful tip? Look for flat-back pearls (which you can buy as stickers or craft supplies on Amazon), since they’ll stay put on your nail better.
Scroll on for some of our favorite takes on the trend.
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One of the more simple (but still undoubtedly cool) pearl nail art options is a single stone near the base of your nails. Use a neutral like Chanel’s Ballerina for the most effortless look.
Pair a color-blocked mani with studs for double the fun.
Up the ante of a pearl mani with different-sized embellishments.
Play up the pearls with dotted tips and combine two trends in one.
Tiny pearls are even cooler in unnatural colors.
This mani magically looks both over-the-top and effortless at the same time.
At Adeam’s Spring 2020 show, nail artist Mei Kawajiri paired pearls with “water drops.” This might be a bit much to request at the salon, but it sure makes for great eye candy.
Get in on two trends at once with a pearl French mani. This one was created by adding tiny stones to Kiss press-ons.
A sprinkle of diamonds raises the glam factor up a notch.
Elevate a nude mani with a few randomly placed pearls.
Pearls look equally as cool with something colorful, like cheeky cherries.
A bright red background and gold studs pull pearls out of the minimal category.
Chains and long tips make for a mani fit for a queen, or a pop princess.
Decorate your cuticles with a strand of pearls (try these from Amazon).
Bella Cacciatore is the beauty associate at Glamour. Follow her on Instagram @bellacacciatore_.