When you think of pearl jewellery what instantly springs to mind? An old-fashioned string of pearls worn by your grandmother or maybe a classic pair of pearl studs worn by a bride on their wedding day; well there is a new wave of jewellery designers who are pushing the boundaries of pearls and creating innovative, exciting pearl jewellery that will put it on the 21st century jewellery map.
One of these designers is Hisano Shepherd of Los Angeles-based jewellery brand little h. Hisano specialises in petite and baroque pearls, and focuses on providing her own spin to the stigma attached to the preconceived notions attached to the pearl gemstone. When you look at Hisano’s Pearl Geode collection, you’re hit with an array of vibrant colours, organically formed shapes and completely unique finishes; “I wanted to create my own version using pearls and gemstones and create something that is totally out of the ordinary that has never been done before.” So Hisano actually sets vibrant coloured gemstones, often sapphires, inside the pearls themselves, resulting in eye-catching and very individual pieces of jewellery.
The process isn’t an easy one though; “The pearl geode process takes very laborious steps from slicing the pearl, cleaning the interior, polishing the interior and the rim, setting the findings and finally setting the stones.” Hisano sources the pearls predominantly at the Hong Kong Jewellery Fair three times a year, so then she can cherry pick the most colourful, unique and rare pearls there by hand. We love the way Hisano sets the gemstones in a particular way so the colours cascade from light to dark in an ombre effect; the orange sapphire pieces remind us of a warm hues of a sunset.
She first got the inspiration for this collection when visiting the Tuscan gem show, where small to large naturally forming geodes were displayed everywhere. Her innovative designs have not gone unnoticed. Little H earned the 2014-2015 Orient Award for compelling design from the Cultured Pearl Association of America and the 2015 Design Excellence Award by MJSA.
So next time you’re looking for a unique and forward-thinking piece of jewellery don’t be so quick to disregard the humble pearl.