US-based carved pearl jewellery maker, Galatea, has won the hearts of soccer fans around the world with its soccer-ball designs.
Launched late last year, the company’s 14-14.5mm hand carved Tahitian pearl and 11mmm white freshwater pearl ‘soccer balls’ for men and women have experienced a largely unexpected sales boost thanks to the 2014 World Cup.
Chi Huynh, the owner and founder of Galatea, has loved soccer since his childhood in Vietnam where his mantra had been “eat, school, and play soccer”.
He has even built a soccer field for the employees at the company’s factory in Vietnam – as well as the local soccer teams.
“When I built the factory 10 years ago, I asked my employees if I was missing anything and they said, ‘a soccer field,’” said Huynh, explaining that there is no soccer field in the local town as people need the land to grow rice.
Galatea has been producing carved pearls since a “happy accident” in 1997.
“I was working with a pearl to contain a ‘diamond in a pearl setting’ and nicked it,” said Huynh. “After some experimentation, I discovered that pearl nacre could be carved into any number of shapes.”
Readily admitting that he “didn’t discover pearl carving”, Huynh nonetheless believes he has “perfected it”.
Today the company’s extensive collection of “pearls without boundaries” includes carved pearls, ‘diamond in a pearl’ designs and the Galatea pearl −“the world’s only cultured pearl with a brilliant gemstone centre, hand carved to let the gemstone colour shine through”.
“These are patented cultured pearls that are produced only by us,” said Huynh.
“The oyster is enucleated with a coloured stone bead (reconstituted turquoise, synthetic red coral, amethyst, citrine or blue topaz). When the pearl comes out of the oyster, it looks like any other Tahitian pearl but then we carve it to expose the colour beneath.
Galatea is not currently stocked in any Australian retail stores but “interested retailers can contact our offices in California”
“We sell to many international accounts directly,” said Huynh.