Julia Popovich traded in translations for jewelry design three years ago when she debuted Zhulia, a line of saltwater pearl jewelry. “I speak Mandarin, and zhu means pearl,” explains the student of East Asian studies with a minor in Chinese, who fell in love with pearl jewelry ushering corporate clients from Hong Kong to China to buy pearls, learning the ropes of production from freshwater pearl farmers. Eventually, she moved into design full time, favoring akoya and South Sea varieties for their specialness and luster. “I like the quality of saltwater pearls and the luster and the fact that oyster take two years to make a pearl versus the 50 in one freshwater mussel,” she explains. Her signature look is geometry—modern angular silhouettes in 14k gold or silver with diamonds and pearls, using sketches and CAD to translate ideas into finished pieces.
Accounts: No stores to date, though Popovich does sell four pieces in silver with Tahitian pearls through QVC under the name Sterling Black by Zhulia
Trade fairs: None to date
Retailer buy-in: Five pieces
Contact: Zhulia, San Diego, 760-487-5091; zhulia.com
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