Storytelling Pearls by Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery

Storytelling Pearls by Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery

We are delighted to be able to share with you award winning designer Harriett Kelsall’s views on why pearls are so special.

Storytelling Pearls

In the words of Jackie Kennedy, ‘Pearls are always appropriate’. The iridescent treasure from the sea is synonymous with understated elegance and class and has long been associated with celebrated style icons such as Coco Chanel and Grace Kelly.

According to Federico Fellini:

“All art is autobiographical. The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography”.

At Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery we will always relate to the storytelling pearl as we continue our purpose to tell each customer’s unique story through one-off designs. So in this blog, I thought you might like to read about a few of the stories behind our recent pearl pieces.

Pearl Combinations

At HK Bespoke our talented designers and experienced goldsmiths have created some wonderful pieces combining versatile pearls with different stones.

A twist engagement ring was designed for Stuart and Claire that incorporated an elegant partnership of sapphire and pearl. The couple both loved surfing so it seemed natural to include the ocean gem in the design. The central blue sapphire was set in a six claw setting with the pearls perfectly poised either side in all around settings. The 9 carat white gold band wrapped around the contemporary setting, mirroring the way in a shell envelops the precious ocean treasure. Although pearls are not often used in engagement ring designs because of durability concerns, the iridescent spheres are believed to symbolise modesty and chastity so they make an apt choice in this respect.

At HK Bespoke we also offers a re-design service, giving customers the opportunity to transform a family heirloom into a modern and wearable piece of jewellery, or use the essence of the piece to create something new. A precious pearl and peridot brooch was brought into the studio by a customer who wanted to commission a pair of earrings using the original gems. The new 9 carat yellow gold earrings featured intricate scrollwork detailing and each held four 2 mm half cut pearls and one 0.28 carat 6 x 4 mm faceted oval peridot. The bespoke design was commissioned to match a much loved pendant and together they made a stunning set that will undoubtedly be treasured forever, exemplifying the longevity of pearls and their design adaptability.

pearls, british pearl association

Bridal Pearls

Pearls have been a style staple of women for decades proving their timelessness and thus their suitability within bridal jewellery.

Cath commissioned a pendant and earring set for her wedding day which combined organically shaped freshwater pearls with rose gold. This choice of metal matched her engagement and wedding ring set while also accentuating the overtones of rosé within the ivory pearls.

Jay and Laura visited our Hertfordshire Jewellery studio to commission their wedding rings but Jay also wanted a special surprise wedding gift for Laura. The final design was a beautiful Sterling silver pendant holding a 3 mm brilliant cut blue Sri-Lankan sapphire in an all around setting. Delicately hanging from the setting was a beautiful pear shaped pearl, measuring 10 x 5 mm in size held in an ornate cup setting. The cornflower blue sapphire complemented the creamy floating pearl and enhanced the gem’s natural blue overtones. A design of this kind not only makes a wonderful bridal accessory and provides ‘something blue’ on the day, but it also becomes a sentimental piece that Tony and Tracey wanted to thank each of their bridesmaids with a gift, so we designed four  cluster pendants featuring each of their bridesmaids’ birthstones and combined them with matching coloured pearls.

british pearl association, pearls, pearl necklace

The HK Bespoke Ready to Wear Bridal Jewellery Collection features pieces of pearl jewellery that make wonderful gifts for a bride, mother of the bride or bridesmaids. With a wonderful colour palette of gems to choose from, pearls can complement any bridal outfit or even match the colour theme of a wedding.

Milestone Pearls

Pearls are simultaneously modern and classic ensuring they make a cherished natural gem for all ages.

Laura’s father came into the Hertfordshire Jewellery Centre to commission a bespoke pendant for her 21st Birthday. The final design featured a handmade white gold teardrop pendant, in the middle of which was an ivory freshwater pearl with a beautiful even lustre. While a full necklace of round pearls is a timeless and classic design, the floating, kinetic and organically shaped pearl in Laura’s pendant created more of a contemporary feel.

pearls, british pearl association

Pearls are wonderfully versatile and the deliberate mixing of colours, shapes and sizes creates unique effects. Whether it’s a beautiful peacock pearl with a myriad of shimmering colours or a familiar and classic ivory gem, pearls will always be a worthy investment.

The Harriet Kelsall Story

Harriet Kelsall is one of the most respected bespoke designers and business trailblazers working in the UK jewellery industry today. She was Everywoman’s “Retail Woman of the Year” in 2011, one of the IoD Director Magazine’s six “Women who have most changed the business world” in 2014 and is a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and of the City of London.


pearls, british pearl association

She founded her business – Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery – in 1998 and since then it has grown to be one of the most respected UK jewellery companies with over thirty national and international awards to its name. As an innovator, she has revolutionised design within the jewellery industry, triggering an explosion in bespoke jewellery with her “Design for the High Street” concept store in central Cambridge. The walk-in design studio staffed by degree qualified designers rather than sales people was the winner of the UK Jewellery Award for innovation. Her Hertfordshire Jewellery Centre is totally unique and offers a completely different approach to retail and bespoke design in a converted barn in the countryside. In 2012 its concept was heralded by the retail industry as one of the most significant achievements of the year.

As a champion for ethics, the environment and CSR, she joined an industry where few cared about such matters. Since then she has tirelessly campaigned with others for improvement – in 2011 she helped launch Fairtrade Gold worldwide and her business became the first in the world to be both Fairtrade licensed and certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council. Last year she won finalist places in the prestigious “BITC Responsible Business of the Year” and the UK Jewellery Awards’ “Ethical Business of the Year”. She has been a regular keynote speaker on ethics and CSR at national events such as the BITC leadership summit and will be judging the 2016 National CSR Awards.

As a passionate advocate for skills and education within her sector, Harriet has transformed the lives of countless design graduates by creating a business model, now mimicked across the industry that allows for a proper structured career in jewellery design. She advises the government on jewellery skills as part of the Creative and Cultural Skills Academy and chairs the National Associate of Jewellers’ (the main industry body) Education Committee. On a local level she organises competitions and events for children in her award-winning Hertfordshire Jewellery Centre and she is regularly an inspiring speaker and careers advisor at schools. She cares about craftsmanship within the UK and is “Master” to a Worshipful Company of Goldsmith Apprentices and well as a two time sponsor of the Goldsmiths’ Design and Crafts Awards.


british pearl association


Thank you very much to Harriet for offering a special insight into her work.