“Pearls are as unique and diverse as the Women they adorn,” states Kristin Richard, the elegant proprietor behind Kaviar South Sea Pearls, one of Fashion Central’s fabulous new boutiques. The minute you enter her gorgeous French country boudoir-inspired boutique you really start to understand what an experience pearl shopping can be. With the Venetian Pearl walls, damask wallpapers, and custom bottles of champagne, Kristin has thought of every detail to make each customers shopping experience very special. We sat down with Kristin to discover exactly where her love of pearls first came from and what to expect at Kaviar this spring and summer.
When did you first fall in love with pearls?
I’ve always been in love with pearls – but witnessing the birth of the most exquisite South Sea pearl I have ever seen (to date) and holding it in my palm seconds after it was removed from the oyster was one of the most fascinating things I have ever seen. This pearl will be passed down, worn and adorn a woman’s neck, given to her children and her children’s children. This was just the beginning of an eternal journey – and from that moment on, I was captured, and in love.
You travel to Tahiti and source the South Sea pearls you carry, yourself — what is this experience like and what do you look for in a pearl?
Experiencing the journey from the very beginning is important to me – I can guarantee source and various harvests, and am able to discuss the industry with professionals, the going-on’s of the market, and can really ensure that I am buying inventory that is appropriate for my clients. The building of the relationship with my suppliers is also invaluable. We spend 16-18 hours a day together harvesting, matching, and sharing meals. It is typically very modest and humble accommodations with a lot of family and friends around, joking, laughing and working.
When choosing pearls, there are the 7 basic value factors that you look at. Shape, size, color, luster, complexion (surface quality), nacre quality, and if applicable – Matching. This is my guideline for buying, but the market always dictates what is more desirable. For example, Dark black Tahitian pearls are very much sought after in the industry – but in Calgary I find my clients prefer a silver or charcoal Pearl. Knowing your client is just as important as knowing your product.
Can anyone wear pearls?
Yes, yes they can.
Are there different styles for different ages? 20s? 30s? 40s? 50s?
I have noticed a few style trends with different age groups, but more commonly my clients gravitate towards colors that suit them, and a size of pearl appropriate for their frame and personality. Pearls are a timeless addition to your wardrobe – and contrary to selecting a pearl for an age, you match the pearls to the woman.
What are your best-sellers?
Pink pearls and Tahitian (black) pearls have become increasingly popular, as well as really long (50-55”) strands with small pearls that can be knotted or tied.
Advice for someone purchasing pearls as a gift?
Pearls are a gift given with love. I like to suggest classic styles for gifts – earrings, a Princess strand of saltwater pearls, or more creatively, a loose pearl that can be added to over the years to eventually make a full strand.
Also, be sure that the person you are gifting the pearls to know and understand proper care and cleaning procedures for pearls. There is an old saying “Last on, first off.” Pearls should not be exposed to chemicals or abrasive solutions (perfume, hand lotions, hairspray) and should be wiped down with a clean, damp cotton cloth before being stored. (in a separate jewelry compartment to avoid scratching) For strands, you should have your pearls re-strung once a year.
What is your signature pearl look?
An opera (26 to 36 inch) or rope (37 inches or longer) strand that can be put over your head – or both at the same time. I love to layer pearls. For everyday, I like a long strand of white pearls and large white pearl earrings. For a really simplistic look, a large (18mm) south sea pearl worn on a 17” chain.
Who are your style icons?
Babe Paley, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Eartha Kit, Coco Chanel, and Elizabeth Taylor.