With only 10 days to Christmas and Pearly soon entering its 13th year, I’d like to take the time to reflect and tell you a bit more about the essence of Pearly bespoke. Where I came from, how this all came about... and what is the essence of this little jeweler that can.
You see we have to go back... way back... born in HK, age 12 in Sydney, high school in SF, and attended RISD. I was raised as an artist and began my dream career as a product designer. My first “job” at 14 was to tidy up jewelry sample at the YSL office for work experience (gosh, I raised my hand high for that one). At 15 I did my first internship at my friend’s dad Graphics firm, I did Calligraphy invitation for the SF Symphony for extra cash, and I won money and good dinners from frequently winning painting competitions. When I graduated RISD, I was the one person hired by my professor. I went to study in Milan in the summer, I won a Dansk flatware competition and got my first design contract at 21. I was basically raised to design. A few years later, I moved to NYC as a P-O-P Display designer. I designed for brands from Marc Jacobs Blush to Nine West Eyewear (which I’ll share w you here). I clocked in hard and fast, cranked out designs like a machine, or my romantic mom would imagine, Flogers commercial style. It was ruthless Jedi training, but I produced SO MUCH in such a short time. There I grew to be a prolific designer, and I learned how to create professionally and luxuriously in top speed.
Tis the era of SATC, I was in the midst of Heatherette fashion shows, Zac Posen after party, champers at art parties, and style that one can only absorb in their 20s living in THE city. I immersed myself in Bergdorf next door as if it’s my second home, yes for research often (free hall pass to Bergdorf middle of the day, yes please), but also to look, to study, and to look some more... I knew every inch of it, the P95 for all their displays, what the clients look at, looked for, and how to generate that sense of beauty and harmony.
If I must drop a pin, then that has to be when the seed of Pearly began. I had my first taste of touching, feeling, watching how brands ground, but I saw a gap… a luxury hole that I couldn’t put my finger on. I wanted to redefine luxury: What if luxury returns to what the product itself… not as brands, new for the sake of next season, not by packaging, displays or means of delivery, but the fundamental core of the object itself, being literally THE best that the world has to offer. What if price really is no object? As you become desensitized as only one living in luxury can be, through the smoke and mirrors. What would we as designers anartisansns make? And what would the consumer want IF THEY DICTATE THE TERMS?
That brew stewed in me for years following, and it remains the core of what I am... I carried it to grad school, and developed myself as an artisan. I learned silversmithing, sculpture, shoe making, bag making, even couture sewing for wedding headpieces from a former YSL couturier. I wanted to make the finest with my own two hands. I was happy to get dirty and be on the ground, much like my training in the ID department of RISD. As a hot young thing, I dreamt of an empire of products much like Kate Spade, multifaceted lifestyle, but showcasing what’s important to me and with my own expertise - from flatware, cameras, kitchenware, metal objects, to of course, jewelry. I began working with friends, friends of friends, and I brought my ideas to life with the help of artisans I met at the NY the jewelry district. I began designing right there my first pieces of bespoke and sending them out to artisans... I had them help me create my visions, my experiments, and mini versions of what I have done my whole life essentially. The was the very start of my one-woman couture business.
Here I want to share with you some of my early jewelry works during that time, my display work at RPG, sculptures and product designs, all of which formed the very DNA in me as a designer and a luxury jeweler. These early works formed the nexus of my design language, and began realizing my feverish dreams of turning my visions into a touchable reality.