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Pearl Renaissance 2024: Crafting elegance beyond tradition

Award-winning Bainbridge Island jeweler redefines the essence of pearls

When picturing a pearl, the first thing that likely comes to mind is a classic white pearl necklace - timeless, elegant ... and a far cry from what pearls have to offer in 2024!

While that classic white pearl will always have its place as a jewelry box staple, modern pearls are reaching new heights in the world of jewelry design. For award-winning Bainbridge Island jeweler Robin Callahan, it’s the fairly recent creation of faceted pearls that has captured her heart, mind and soul.

From far left to lower right - ‘Akari’ (far left), ‘Sumire’ (top right), ‘Arcadia’ (lower right).

From far left to lower right - ‘Akari’ (far left), ‘Sumire’ (top right), ‘Arcadia’ (lower right).

“I first came across faceted pearls at the Tucson Gem Show a few years back and when I saw the way light played off their facets, it changed my opinion on pearls forever,” says the owner of Robin Callahan Designs. “Prior to that trip, I was never particularly inspired by the more traditional pearls. Sure, they were pretty and had their place, but seeing faceted pearls helped me reimagine what a pearl could be.”

Today, the jewelry community continues to see a new energy around pearls as designers move away from more traditional pearl designs and towards significantly more elaborate, high-end designs.

Robin’s own work with pearls often falls somewhere in between, with jewelry that can take you from a backyard barbecue to a ballroom without missing a beat.

Re-inspired by modern pearls, Robin has earned numerous awards for pearl pieces she’s created just in the past year, including her first CPAA (Cultured Pearl Association of America) award.

The ‘3 pearl pendant’ perfect for easy wearing (far left) and ‘Bubbles’ (far right).

The ‘3 pearl pendant’ perfect for easy wearing (far left) and ‘Bubbles’ (far right).

Other accolades include two from the InStore Design Awards, where Robin won the Retailers Choice Award and second place in ‘pearls over $5,000’, Best Jeweler in the ‘Best of Bainbridge’ for the seventh year in a row, Best Jeweler in the ‘Best of Kitsap’ for the fourth year in a row and the Spectrum Awards’ Diva Award in the men’s jewelry category.

But of all her recent wins, one that has perhaps meant the most was her piece ‘Harmony’ winning the CPAA Visionary Award, an award that celebrates giving fresh new concepts to the tradition of pearls.

“Out of 12 finalist pieces selected from both international and national submissions, two (‘Bubbles’ and ‘Harmony’) of those 12 pieces were mine,” Robin says. “‘Harmony,’ won the Visionary Award and it meant a lot to me to win that particular award because finding fresh, new ways to use pearls is something I’ve been striving to do since I first laid eyes on a faceted pearl and fell madly in love with them.”

Keep up with Robin’s latest fine art creations, nominations and awards by following Robin Callahan Designs on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, or by visiting robincallahandesigns.com.

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