The Galatea Pearl (U.S. Patent #7,062,940) is the world’s only cultured pearl with a colored gemstone center, carved by hand to let the color shine through. The process begins with a bead nucleus made from R.C. turquoise, synthetic red coral, amethyst or citrine. The bead nucleus is inserted into the oyster and gently placed back into the sea, where the pearl oyster will coat it with nacre (pearl). After harvesting, hand carving of the pearl allows you to see the base core beneath the nacre.From Our Family to Yours
My father was a talented and widely respected jeweler in Vietnam. In the old days, in my home country, it was considered a great privilege and honor to apprentice with him. One was more than willing to tolerate the six months or so spent cleaning the shop, polishing and making jump rings, only to “progress” to spending day after day making simple wedding bands–just to be asked to melt them down and start over because they weren’t round enough! The great mystery of why he was so hard on us was finally revealed to me the day he said, “If you want to be a good jeweler, it takes skill and repetition. To be a ‘great jeweler’ also requires patience, dedication, courage, and a special love for your trade. Having these qualities makes you worthy to work in my shop.”
Today at Galatea, we have an Olympic team of jewelers all of whom share our philosophy and love for the trade. We create each piece of our jewelry as if it is to be worn by our own beloved.
Galatea Carved Pearls were first created in the late ’90s when Chi Huynh, founder of Galatea: Jewelry by Artist, accidentally “nicked” a pearl he was preparing for a Diamond in a Pearl setting. The cut that exposed the cultured pearl’s mother-of-pearl bead fascinated him, and he wondered what would happen if he carved the entire pearl. He did and the result was spectacular.
Galatea’s first carved pearls contained only Diamond in a Pearl settings. Today, Galatea Carved Pearls are integral to the entire Galatea line as a part of the Diamond in a Pearl, Queen Bead and Pearl Strand Collections. They are available in Tahitian (black South Sea), Golden South Sea as well as white and peach freshwater. These are what Chi likes to call, “Pearls Without Boundaries.” Yes, the jewelry industry was startled when we first began to market carved pearls. But today, they are prized. Chi’s Galatea Carved Pearls have won design numerous awards, including the CPAA International Pearl Design Competition’s Visionary Award in 2012 (Galatea Queen Bead Collection). In 2012, our Levitating Queen Bead “Hope” Necklace was the winner of a JCK Jewelers’ Choice Award for Pearl Jewelry Under $2,500.
The pearl carving process has become more streamlined over time but it is still painstakingly done by hand. In 2012, Galatea opened a second carving factory in Soc Trang, Vietnam, dedicated entirely to the craft. There are over 40 unique pearl carving styles, most of which can be viewed in the Queen Bead Collection. Some are even more rare, such as the “Wind,” “Raven’s Wings” and “Rhythm of Life” Tahitian pearl pendant and earrings that are a part of the Diamond in a Pearl Collection.
As with much of Galatea’s jewelry, Chi was inspired by nature and art when creating carved pearls. He says the ancient miniature Netsuke carvings of ancient Japan were also an inspiration. The carving technique is proprietary and not as easy as one might think. Perfected over years of trial, error and patience, each Galatea pearl artisan is trained by Chi. Pearl nacre, although softer than diamonds, is quite hard and must be handled with the utmost care. Each pearl is viewed individually to ascertain the design that it will best respond to. The pearl is then marked by hand and carved. Afterwards, it is polished to smooth the surface. The result is often amazing. With the depth of nacre exposed, you can actually see many more colors in every pearl.
Take thousands of hours to gain an ounce of trust
Sell one’s soul not to the dust of gold
Dignity overcomes greed
Dignity sets one’s spirit roaming free,
Catch oneself not in the shadow of an eclipse
An eclipse momentarily comes and goes
But dignity shall remain.
Toss a pebble into pond
Watch the ring of water caressing the shore
I am a child
Each day Mother Earth
Secretly reveals a new word.