The Pearl in Purple
Some might say that next to the diamond, there is no gem more fascinating than the pearl. The rarity, beauty and symbolic associations of the Jewel of the Sea have made them an object of desire for thousands of years.

That is certainly true for the Hakimian family of Yoko London, who has spent three generations pursuing the world’s most exquisite pearls. The collection they have amassed is one of the finest and rarest in the world and includes pearls of the highest quality in the most unusual natural colors and exceptional sizes. In fact, as a testament to the collection’s importance, four of the company’s pearl jewelry Masterpieces were selected for display at the recent “Pearls” exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, which explored the history of pearls from the early Roman Empire to the present day.

Imagine, then, the family’s absolute delight when CEO Michael Hakimian, son of Medhi Hakimian—a descendent of the Hakimian family enlisted in 1740 to guard and protect Nadir Shah of Persia’s treasury of jewels—recently acquired freshwater pearls unlike any he’s seen in the more than 35 years he’s been in the pearl business.

Not only are the pearls notably large, exceptionally clean and with a high luster, they also have a rare natural color defined as “radiant orchid,” the same name color authority Pantone gave to its Color of the Year for 2014: a vibrant purple composed of a harmonious blend of purple, fuchsia and pink undertones.

“When I first saw the radiant orchid pearls, I felt very privileged to have been offered this treasured gift of nature,” Hakimian says. “In over 35 years in the pearl industry, I have never seen freshwater pearls in such intense natural colors and of such fine quality, so you can imagine my amazement at seeing them.”

Farmed at an undisclosed lake in China, the pearls are created by crossbreeding two different types of Hyriopsis mussels: Cumingi and Schlegali. The crossbred mussels are subsequently put into water for six to eight years before they’re ready to produce a pearl. The cultivation process then begins by implanting into the mussels an irritant in the form of a round mother-of-pearl bead accompanied by a piece of mantle tissue. (This mantle tissue carries the cells that start the production of the mussel’s defense system around the bead, which includes the emission of a blackish substance called conchiolin over which nacre, the lustrous coating for which the pearl is prized, is secreted.) Once the pearls are cultivated, the mussels are returned to the water for two to three additional years before harvesting. The result is gorgeous purple pearls with vibrancy dependent on the individual DNA of the mother hosts.

The color is so luscious that one of Yoko London’s chief jewelry designers named the jewelry collection inspired by the pearls Vigneto, meaning vineyard in Italian. The pearls reminded him of the grapes he admired in the vineyards of Tuscany, Italy, where he spent time as a child.

The Vigneto Collection is designed in the same fashion as all Yoko London pieces, with an intricate tailoring to applaud the character of each pearl. In this particular collection, Yoko has used only 18-karat white gold and diamonds, as their clean elegance beautifully showcases the intense color of the pearls. The floral motif is prominent, particularly in the rings, as it complements well the pearls’ feminine beauty. One such piece features a radiant orchid freshwater pearl and a white Australian South Sea pearl, sizes 13 mm–15 mm, nestled close together in the embrace of a diamond-encrusted flower and leaves.

Another standout piece is an elaborate radiant orchid pearl, white Australian South Sea pearl and diamond necklace of the same caliber as Yoko London’s award-winning Carnevale and Mezza Luna necklaces. Composed of 43 pearls in graduated sizes from 9 mm–14 mm, the colors of the pearls shade into each other from light to dark in an ombré effect around the neck, culminating with several outstanding radiant orchid pearls at the décolletage. Interspersed throughout are what resemble branches made of 18-karat white gold and diamonds, as if they are tying together a bunch of smooth-skinned berries. The piece could very well have taken years to create, as the designers patiently waited through multiple pearl harvests for pearls in the exact colors and sizes needed.

As such, the Vigneto Collection fully embodies the Yoko London concept of finding the finest pearls in the market and presenting them in bold new ways that women would love to wear. Each breathtakingly beautiful design truly celebrates the uniqueness and magnificence of these radiant orchid pearls.

“When clients view the Vigneto Collection, I want them to appreciate the precious rarity behind it, and that owning a piece means owning a piece of jewelry that is truly one-of-a-kind,” Hakimian says.
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