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Pearls: Galatea Feels the Bead, Yvel Goes for the Gold

The Vault
By Jennifer Heebner, Senior Editor
This story appears in the June 2011 issue of JCK magazine
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Pearls: Galatea Feels the Bead, Yvel Goes for the Gold
Some 176 styles are available in the Queen Bead (above) and Levitation Bead collections; $112.50; Galatea, San Dimas, Calif.; 800-609-6888; galateausa.com

Queen Beads

Inventor/designer Chi Huynh—head of Galatea in San Dimas, Calif.—could be taking the bead craze to a higher level with his Queen Bead Collection, a line of 12 mm carved Tahitian, white freshwater, or peach freshwater pearls with sterling silver cores that launches at JCK Las Vegas. Positioned as add-on beads for entry-level shoppers, the Queen Beads are available in 92 styles, starting at $112.50 retail for a Tahitian bead and $45 for a freshwater pearl.

Additionally, a new line of Levitation beads—84 beads available in pearl, silver, and glass, starting at $37.50 retail—offers some of the same carved Queen Bead looks, but with a patent-pending Mono-Pole magnetic core designed to repel rather than attract, allowing for a consistent 7.5 mm spacing on jewelry. The idea behind Levitation beads was to allow customers to select fewer beads—with “perfect spacing,” according to Huynh—and still have beautiful jewelry.

Ken Kelley, co-owner of Diamonds ’n Dunes in Kitty Hawk, N.C., has been carrying Galatea jewelry for the past 10 years. “Chi is a bit of visionary,” says Kelley.  “He sees how excited people are about beads in general, and with the new collection, he’s responding to the current climate by allowing everyone to be a part of his art world because of the price points. I keep thinking, ‘What the hell is he going to do next?’ ”

On Golden Pearl

Yvel’s new South Seas pearls feature a thin coating of 18k yellow gold—“almost zero thickness,” according to company president Isaac Levy—cast individually and according to shape; strands start at $23,917 for an 18-inch necklace. (Yvel, New York City; 866-983-5583; yvel.com)

“The advent of a finer quality freshwater pearl has helped the price point selling of strands. We’re able to bring them into a much more commercial range, and they’re much better as fashion items. The larger ones tend to retail between $750 and $1,500 for an 18-inch strand. From a fashion standpoint, we’re also selling a lot of Tahitian pearls, often as larger pendants.”
—Thomas T. Wright, co-owner, Wright’s Jewelers, Lincoln, Neb.

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