February 14th sees the day (and night) where many of us fabulous females accentuate our natural womanly assets and practice the art of seduction.

With-partner or not, Valentines seems like the perfect time to celebrate female sexuality in abundance. So we thought we’d transport you to Renaissance Venice, for a little look, at how the professionals do it. Pearls, and all…

Venice. Home of winding waterways, the celebrated gondola, the carnival, decadent seduction, glittering masks, ferocious independence, and the dark side of glamour. It is here, around the 16th century, that a subtle uprising occurred in the world of women’s fashion, with the pearl becoming a symbol of glamorous rebellion. And the leaders of this rebellion, were the Venetian courtesans.

When we think of courtesans today, an image of the archetypal prostitute may spring to mind. Not particularly glamorous, or romantic. You probably know by now, that prostitution is one of the oldest professions in the world. But back then, being a courtesan was an art: the art of using natural womanly assets and talents to secure a ‘financially beneficial’ marriage. Not too occasionally, courtesans were extremely well educated, sometimes highly regarded, and often, had quite a bit of covert political influence. Being a courtesan, was a serious and valid career choice, in an age when not much freedom was given to women. And that career choice often led to a life of opulent luxury.

There were courtesans of Venice similar to our vision of a modern day prostitute. But there was also the ‘courtigiana honesta’, roughly translated as ‘honest courtesan’. The Honest Courtesans were noted for their ‘class’, artistic skill, cultured world view, and intellect as well as their obvious sex appeal! The most famous of the latter was Veronica Franco (pictured right).

Initially, Venetian courtesans, were not easy to recognise in the city of Venice. They looked just like most women of the time. Their fame and notoriety grew, as word spread of their charms, and pretty soon, they were flouting the laws for dress, set by the Signori delle Pompe, which included displaying luxury jewelry.

Venetian courtesans refused to be classified, or to live under the strict rules, regulations and restrictions put on women at the time. Unlike other courtesans throughout Europe, the Venetian courtesans revealed far more flesh. They sometimes displayed bare stomachs, and were avid promoters of corsets that revealed bare breasts. No shawls or ruffles up to the neck for these bawdy lasses! They were known for bleaching their hair, wearing low cut dresses and killer heels, and choosing unusual colors and decorative trims.

The pearl in particular, was a Renaissance demarcation of a woman’s status and class. And when the courtesans donned pearls, flamboyantly displaying their precious gems, against the rules, they were in effect, rising up against the plight of the Renaissance woman! Pearls, the heavy use of lace, and fine, imported silk became the uniform of their raunchy rebellion.

Now Valentine’s is above all a time for flirting and fun. Not a time to project the prim and proper, and in this age of fifty shades, many of us might proudly squeeze into our skinny jeans and corsets; proudly wear our full skirts, bustles and bows, our kitten heels and stilettos, lace and faux fur, and our best lipstick, and practice (safely and sensibly of course) that age old female talent.

And to help you on your way, Pacific Pearls have selected some choice morsels of consummate pearl persuasion, the most rebellious pieces, brimming with voluptuous Venetian vintage charm…

The baroque pearl necklaces from the Society Islands Collection will look stunning with a low-cut corset or bodice. They possess that vintage charm and luxurious decadence so common in the atmosphere and architecture of Venice. There’s nothing shy and retiring about these statement pieces!

Plush, velvety peach pearls evoke the sense of temptation and forbidden delights. Perfect for that romantic Valentine’s night! They look luscious next to flesh tones and lace, in white, cream or peach. Delicious with your best undies! Our peach pearl earrings will have you swinging from the you-know-what. And the East Kalimantan set has a gorgeous, exquisite decadence to the rich cluster of pearls that make up each piece of jewelry.

Of course, the classic string of white pearls is good too, and is the most common form of pearls found gracing the neckline of the Venetian mistresses. For that ultra-seductive vintage-inspired look, keep the bodice low, and the pearls long.

Let’s celebrate the artful revolution of the Venetian courtesan, that quintessential professional in the art of seduction this Valentines!