By Reema Farooqui
Rosa Van Parys may have master’s degrees in both building science and design, but she is renowned in jewelry for an aesthetic that challenges the stereotypical idea of pearls.
Originally from Ecuador, Van Parys has always seen pearls as a classic gem, worn by her mother, grandmothers, and aunts. She got her first strand of freshwater pearls at age 15 and was smitten. Still, she went on to become an architect and interior designer, only picking up jewelry making as a hobby and antidote to career stress.
As the skills of this Los Angeles–based creator improved and materials choices became finer, Van Parys got stopped on the street by strangers admiring and wanting to purchase her jewelry. By December 2017, Van Parys unveiled a cohesive collection that was anything but traditional, showcasing virtually perfectly round and nearly flaw-free pearls with dagger motifs and playful gemstone color combinations with diamond accents.
“I wanted to give pearls a new edge, a new voice, and a style that has not been done before,” she explains.
For sure, her designs command a presence—they are not made for shrinking violets—but she intends them for daily wear.
“My design motto is ‘Elegance with an Edge,’ and my point of view is making pearl pieces edgy and fierce and breaking the mold of what the industry expects of pearl jewelry,” says Van Parys.
“Being an architect and interior designer, I challenge myself to do things that have not been done before, by creating something that breaks the mold of existing pearl jewelry design.”
Why are pearls your favorite gem?
I love pearls because they are one of a kind and come from a living animal. Pearls are timeless and, if well taken care of, can be inherited from generation to generation. I love adding my edgy style to pearl jewelry. People say that pearls are the queens of gems. For me, pearls are ‘rockstar’ gems, empowered by the loud voices of stylish queens.
What is your best pearl memory?
For one of my designs, I asked my pearl dealer to drill 10 aligned holes on the circumference of an almost 17 mm perfect, light grey Tahitian pearl. My dealer thought I was crazy. The piece was completed as a gorgeous pendant on an Akoya pearl strand of the same color, and I sold it to a collector in the Middle East.
Who is/was your pearl mentor?
My pearl mentor is my pearl dealer, who comes from a family of pearl dealers. He has access to the best pearls and has taught me everything I know about this gem. I often drive him crazy when I tell him about my ideas for bold creations, but he loves seeing the completed pieces.
What was your first break in the pearl business?
It was in 2018, JCK Luxury Vegas show, which was my first real show exhibiting to the industry. That’s when I launched the initial collection of my dagger pendants and earring danglers.
What pearl was the hardest for you to sell, what was it, and for how long did you have it?
Large baroque pearls are the hardest for me to sell. Their shape is too organic to fit with my architectural—symmetry based—pieces.
Type of pearl?
A peacock or blue-tone Tahitian and a white Australian South Sea pearl.
Piece of pearl jewelry?
My pearl dagger pendants and earring danglers. Also, my Rockstar necklaces.
The beaches of Mexico along the Pacific Ocean, like Punta Mita. During winter, our family enjoys skiing.
Coffee or tea?
Black tea—Earl Grey is my favorite.
Dogs or cats?
Wine or whiskey?
City or country?