As a child, I believed pearls made the lady.I was convinced that upon securing that complicated golden clasp (without getting my hair stuck) I would be transformed into a poised, elegant, and classy young woman. It would separate me from others as a good girl of good standing, someone who knew how to say the right thing, dress appropriately, and be courteous and polite. That opalescent shine around my neck was a sign to all exactly who and what I was before I ever opened my mouth.Pearls would show the world that I was as elegant as Grace Kelly, charming as Audrey Hepburn, fearless as Queen Elizabeth, and clever as Nancy Drew. They were my noose around the neck of modernity; slowing it down with a well-timed reminder that being a lady never goes out of style.Every Christmas I’d dig into the ornament boxes and pull out the yards of plastic pearl garlands, wrap them around myself and host elaborate tea parties with the dogs and cats (each wearing their own strands). On the miraculous Christmas Eve, the only night I was allowed to break out my black velvet dress and shiny patent leather Mary Janes, I’d beg my mother to try on her pearls. I desperately wanted to be a big girl, and to this day I’ll never forget the year they gave me my own tiny set of seed pearls. My hot little hands never left that necklace, grasping the pearls tightly in my fists feeling them warm to my skin; a manic impish grin doing little to match the elegance of my outfit. After that night they were relinquished back into the trusted hands of my mother to spend the year recessed on a flat bed of velvet secure in her jewelry box, just waiting for another special occasion.