Tahitian Pearls in the Spotlight

by Reema Farooqui

A look at the Suzanne Kalan x CPAA Tahitian Pearl Capsule Collection

The end of August saw the debut of a capsule jewellery collection featuring gem quality Tahitian Pearls from French Polynesia. This high jewellery collection was the result of a collaboration between CPAA (Cultured Pearl Association of America) and Suzanne Kalan Jewelry.

Tahitian pearls are an incredible gem. Black pearls, as they are referred to commonly, is a misleading descriptor for these pearls. These pearls are anything but just black. In fact, their colours are difficult to pin down. From true black and dark gray to silver, blue and even gold-green, Tahitian pearls enchant with their incredible range of colour. Add to this the myriad hues of overtones skimming on their surface, and you have a pearlescent colour galore . For an entire high jewellery collection to have been crafted to showcase the beauty of these pearls is undoubtedly what the jewellery world has long been waiting for.

A groundbreaking initiative by CPAA, this jewellery collaboration was spearheaded by CPAA executive director Jennifer Heebner. The whole idea behind this collection was to shine a spotlight on the undeniable beauty and mystique of Tahitian pearls. With support from the government of French Polynesia, CPAA was able to turn this brilliant idea into vibrant reality.

For Suzanne Kalan Jewelry as well, this collection was a first. Renowned for her innovative use of diamond baguettes, jewellery designer Suzanne Kalandjian has never worked on a jewellery collection focused entirely on Tahitian pearls. However, this was something she had been planning to do for some time. Therefore, when she was approached by Jennifer, Suzanne readily agreed to design and craft this jewellery collection in partnership with CPAA.

A Pair of Tahitian Pearl and Emerald Baguette Earrings, Mounted in 18K Yellow Gold

When describing the collection, Suzanne observed that “in this collection, Tahitian pearls beautifully offset the sparkle of baguette diamonds, and I especially love emeralds next to the color of Tahitian pearls. What I love most about Tahitians are the undertones that are captured in the different lights they’re seen in—blue, green, purple, and pink. Tahitian pearls are also timeless, modern, classic, yet edgy and sexy.” Suzanne debuted this jewellery collection, a little more than a month ago, at The Couture Show in Las Vegas.

The collection comprises of four one-of-a-kind pieces of Tahitian pearl jewellery. Each piece features one perfectly spherical, top quality Tahitian pearl. While the overall design aesthetic of this collection is derived from Suzanne Kalan Jewelry’s quintessential Fireworks collection, this capsule collection is a stand alone addition to Suzanne’s jewellery repertoire. Paired with baguette diamonds or vivid green emeralds, the dark peacock and very lustrous Tahitian pearls take centre-stage in each of these four pieces. All the pieces in this collection have been set in 18K gold.

Curious and enthralled in equal parts, I wanted to find out more about this capsule collection. So, I caught up with Jennifer and she very obligingly answered all my questions about this fabulous jewellery collaboration.  

Why did CPAA choose to highlight Tahitian pearls in this capsule collection and why do you think this pearl is sometimes overlooked by jewellery designers who work with pearls?

CPAA put Tahitian pearls in the spotlight for this collaboration because of our love for the black pearl and our strong relationship with French Polynesia. The government helps CPAA by providing our small association with promotional funds. CPAA pitched FP on the idea of capsule collections, and that appealed to them. Collections with brilliant jewelry designers with strong aesthetics and good retail partners helps elevate the profile of Tahitian pearls and challenges the way collectors might think about Tahitian pearl jewelry.

Could you tell us something about the Tahitian pearls featured in this capsule collection?

The pearls Suzanne chose are of the highest quality available! They are incredibly large (the pearls in the rings are over 16 mm in size) with extremely clean surfaces—two characteristics that are difficult to find in a pearl—so that makes them rare and special. Suzanne purchased the pearls from one of our CPAA members, who are known for offering some of the highest quality pearls in the U.S. market.

A Pair of Tahitian Pearl and Emerald Baguette Earrings, Set in 18K Yellow Gold

What role has the government of French Polynesia played in the development of this jewellery collaboration? The government of French Polynesia gives CPAA funds to do fun promotional projects like this. We develop innovative ideas to promote Tahitian pearls and offer the government choices like this, they fund the ones they like, and CPAA executes them.

A pearl jewellery collaboration with Suzanne Kalan Jewelry is a fascinating choice, considering this is a brand that isn’t known for its pearl jewellery pieces. What drew you to Suzanne Kalan Jewelry? I have known Suzanne for a long time and admire her creativity. She single-handedly made baguette diamonds popular again, and in such a modern way. I had never seen her work with pearls before, so that is why I reached out to her for a collaboration. Her choice of emeralds in these pieces helps complement the natural-color tones in Tahitian pearls, and the long emerald shape nods to the silhouette of her signature baguettes. The combination of diamonds, emeralds, Tahitian pearls, and elongated stone cuts makes a powerful statement.

What is your favourite piece from this capsule collection? I love all the pieces, but the rose gold ring with baguette-cut diamonds is my fave. It’s Suzanne’s signature look, and the pearl is perfect.

Where can pearl jewellery lovers see this collection, both online and in person? Since Suzanne just debuted the collection at the Couture jewelry show in August, I’m not yet sure which of her retail accounts placed orders. CPAA is hopeful they will appear in her shop-in-shop in Harrod’s, but we’ll have to reach out to Suzanne to find out.

Will we be seeing more jewellery collaborations and capsule collections from CPAA?
CPAA would love to do more pearl capsule collections! CPAA has the strong designer relationships to make more collabs happen, but as is the case with any nonprofit association, CPAA is dependent on enough funds to bring exciting projects like this to life. Since Suzanne debuted this collection, several designers reached out to me, expressing interest in their own. CPAA is hopeful that many more capsule collections are on the horizon.

The Suzanne Kalan x CPAA Tahitian Pearl Capsule Collection is an unquestionably lovely jewellery collection with a well-deserved focus on Tahitian Pearls.

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