Hisano pushes the boundaries of pearls

Los Angeles-based brand jewellery designer, Hisano Shepherd, founded little h in 2011. Since then she has been creating completely unique, boundary-pushing designs using the humble pearl. She focuses on providing her own spin to the stigma attached to the preconceived notions of the pearl gemstone, and hand finishes each piece with a one-of-a-kind touch.

As a child Hisano was hooked on making friendship bracelets

“My love of making jewellery runs very deep. I was fascinated with jewellery and accessory making kits as a child. When I visited Japan to see my grandparents, I would hit the craft and hobby stores and went crazy. I was hooked on making friendship bracelets. All my allowances were spent at beads stores.”


A jewellery making class at high school sparked her passion

“In high school I found my true calling when I took a jewellery making class. It was basic metalsmithing and I loved every minute of it. I took more classes in college. After graduating with a master’s degree in metalsmithing, I went back to the same classroom as an instructor 10 years later.”

Hisano wants her designs to show the world how unique pearls can be

“My mission is to create innovative and creative pearl jewellery. But not only that, I want to show the world how unique pearls can be. Cultured pearls come in an array of colours that are naturally born, with shapes that are truly unique.”


She’s a bit of pearl nerd

“The most precious piece of jewellery I own is a pink conch pearl pendant that my husband gave me as a wedding gift. You have to be a bit of a pearl nerd to appreciate rare natural pearls, and the conch pearl is the rarest natural pearl. It’s my favourite. Pearls drive me to create jewellery. When I see interesting colours and shapes of pearls, I get excited.”

She grew up splitting her time between LA and Tokyo

“I was born in Japan and grew up between Los Angeles and Tokyo. My grandmother used to take me to Takarazuka theatre. It’s an all-female theatre group. My grandmother would get dressed up in her finest jewellery. I particularly remember her statement emerald and opal cocktail rings.”


Hisano worked from the ground up, starting off polishing rings at a jewellery repair shop

“My education and passion led to the industry. I got my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in metalsmithing and jewellery making as well as a Master’s Degree in jewellery. I’ve worked from the ground up, working at jewellery repair shops polishing rings and fixing costume jewellery, to becoming the head sample maker for a fashion jewellery company. I’m very blessed that I was trained to become an artist while in school and not to become a bench jeweller. I was trained to think outside of the box. For that I am very thankful to my grad school professors.”

Her edgy and innovative take on pearl jewellery was designed to appeal to the younger generation

“When I first started designing with pearls, I noticed that pearl jewellery flooding the market all had a similar look. The younger generation weren’t excited about pearls because the classic look wasn’t widely appealing. I saw the opportunity to create pearl jewellery in edgy, stylish and unique ways.”


Her number one value is to be true to her herself

“My core values are: be true to myself, be creative, and to get it done right. It’s significant for me to push boundaries in my work and to be authentic.”

Of an evening, you’ll usually find Hisano working in her studio with a glass of wine

“My best work is done in the evening in my studio without distractions while sipping a glass of wine. All of my jewellery is handmade by me with the help of an assistant. All pearls are cut, polished and the stones are set in my studio.”