Christina Lang Assael (pictured), president and CEO of coral and pearl company Assael, died on Dec. 21 at her home in Millbrook, N.Y. She was 75.
The Assael brand will continue as a family-owned company, with senior vice president Peggy Grosz taking over business operations.
Christina Lang was born in Sweden in 1946. After receiving an International Baccalaureate in modern languages in 1968, she traveled abroad and began a 13-year career as a model and commercial actress in London, Paris, and New York City.
She eventually landed at Sotheby’s, serving as liaison to top clients, while earning a certificate in interior design from the New York School of Interior Design. She then started her own business acquiring fine art and antiques for connoisseurs and collectors.
It was at Sotheby’s that Christina met Salvador Assael, the legendary “Pearl King.” They were married in 1991.
In 1993, Assael achieved a world record at Sotheby’s for the highest price ever paid for a gem pearl strand at auction—$2.3 million. That record stands to this day.
Following the death of Salvador in 2011, Christina took the reins of the Assael brand in 2011, steering the brand in new directions, ushering in new pearl jewelry designs and adding new categories such as coral.
Christina was a committed environmentalist who tried to ensure that no harm came to the oceans where Assael jewels are harvested. She also served on the Coral Commission of CIBJO, the World Jewellery Federation.
She supported the Sierra Club, the Duchess Land Conservancy, and the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. Her company donated 10% of all pearl strand sales to the World Wildlife Federation Australia in early 2020 to help with the bushfire animal rescue and rehabilitation.
She is survived by her children, Sophia and Robert, and sister Pia.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made in honor of Christina Lang Assael to the Ocean Conservancy.
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