As a child, Chi Huynh’s mantra in Vietnam was “eat, school, and play soccer,” he tells JCK, so it’s not too surprising that the sport has made its way into his pearl jewelry line. Huynh of San Dimas, Calif.–based Galatea, a maker of carved pearl jewelry, unveiled some soccer-motif offerings last year for his King Pearl collection for men, later adding a women’s SKU.
But Huynh isn’t the only person who loves soccer—so do employees at his factory in Vietnam, based 200 km south of Saigon. “When I built the factory 10 years ago, I asked my employees if I was missing anything, and they said, ‘A soccer field,’ ” recollects Huynh. So he built one, which company employees—men and women—use regularly, as do neighbors: Local leagues flock to the field that Huynh opens up to all Vietnamese soccer lovers. “In our whole town, there is no soccer ball field because people need the land to grow rice,” he adds. “I feel more connected to my workers by doing this, and they play every day in their Galatea soccer uniforms!”
Back to the jewelry, Huynh offers two carved Tahitian pearl necklaces—a 14.5 mm and an 11.5 mm on leather for $490 and $185—and an 11 mm white freshwater pearl on a silver chain for $110. All styles really do look like soccer balls.
And despite the globe’s World Cup frenzy—which inadvertently boosted sales of the soccer pearls—Huynh only recently realized that that was why sales of the styles rose in the last month from a few to 16. “I don’t watch TV,” he explains. “I didn’t realize that was why we were selling more soccer pearls. I hadn’t promoted them, and then when I told Barbara [his PR associate], she said we had to tell people!”
Carved 11 mm white freshwater soccer-motif pearl necklace on a silver chain, $110
Carved 14.5 mm Tahitian soccer-motif pearl necklace on leather, $490
Galatea women’s soccer team at the Galatea factory in Vietnam
Galatea men’s soccer team at the Galatea factory in Vietnam
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