By Reema Farooqui
Linda Quinn, Jewelry Designer
Stafford, Missouri–based Linda Quinn began designing and crafting jewelry during her undergraduate days at William Woods University. She secured a degree in both art and business, afterwards working for several retailers and manufacturers while honing her bench jeweler skills. By 1985, she debuted her own eponymous business, Linda Quinn Designs. Her aesthetic is defined by clean silhouettes, graphic cuts of gemstones, and oversize cultured pearls of all types. Her affinity for pearls led her to take the Pearls As One (PAO) course, which she completed in July 2021. One of the reasons she took it was its accessibility; students can go at their own pace with no time restraints.
“Over the years I’ve learned a lot about pearls, and I have always designed with them,” she says. “Learning as much as possible about them is exciting and helpful in selling the gems. “[The course] is a great resource and improved my knowledge of pearl history, farming, grading and more. The course has also given me more credibility with my customers because I believe education is the key to selling.”
Learn more about Quinn below.
Why are pearls important to you? I love pearls and have designed with shapes of all types—baroque, round, keshi—in every variety. But whichever pearl I choose, it is always high quality. It has to have beautiful luster and overtones. I also give talks on pearls to different organizations, including the Missouri Banker’s Association and several local women’s associations. Many are at luncheons where I am brought in as entertainment with education. I bring samples of different types of pearls and talk about both excellent and poor-quality pearls. I usually show a short video of how the pearl was formed and history about pearls. Then I give a talk on the different kinds of pearls and touch on grades, fashion, and prices. It’s fun, people love to see pearls up close and handle them, and I have a captive audience!
What is your favorite type of pearl and why? Trying to figure out a favorite type or variety of pearl is difficult. I love them all! Perhaps keshi are my favorite because of their luster and shape. So many layers of nacre make their luster so beautiful. As far as shape, humans can control some of it, but in the end the oyster has its own say. Whatever I choose, it is always quality, whether it is lower-end or higher-end prices. My pearls must have a beautiful luster and overtones.
What pearl jewelry do you own? I own many pieces of pearl jewelry, but I don’t wear any one piece as a favorite. They are all my favorites. I wear multiple strands in every variety of necklaces and bracelets. I also enjoy wearing pieces that I have designed, including rings, pendants, and earrings, and especially large studs. Really, it all depends on where I’m going and what I’m doing. I suppose that’s the designer in me.
What is the most iconic look in pearls? There are two looks that will always be classic. One would be a large, graduated strand of round white South Sea pearls complemented by large white round South Sea stud earrings. Another would be three stands in any color of large pearls nestled one under the other on the neck. I have to say the most iconic look to me would be Elizabeth Taylor and her gems. There’s a picture of Elizabeth Taylor that comes to mind. She is holding up a strand of pearls, looking through them into the camera. Also, Elizabeth Taylor and La Peregrina!
Photos by Ted Morrison