JCK Asks…Hisano Shepherd

The biggest myth about pearls? That they’re round, white, and boring, says the little h artist.

File this under “worst advice ever received”: “While working on my undergrad years ago, I attended a GIA career fair. I asked a very famous jewelry designer for advice,” recalls Hisano Shepherd. “He told me I would never make it as a jewelry designer and I should do something else.” Thankfully, Shepherd ignored him. Today, she’s carved out (sorry, couldn’t resist!) a niche for herself with treasure-chest–like pearl pieces scooped out and filled with diamonds, colored stones, and even more pearls.

Old enough that I don’t get carded anymore.

Number of years in the biz: 11

Number of employees you oversee: Four

Family/pets: Husband, parents, stepson, step-granddaughter.

Describe your personal style: Sophisticated chic; my go-to colors are black, gray, and white, and I love layering jewelry.

First piece you ever designed: My first commissioned piece was a sterling silver ring with colorful cabochons for my Japanese classical dance instructor.

The single piece of jewelry you’re most proud of: I made a sterling silver and freshwater pearl necklace for my friend’s wedding 10+ years ago. She wore the same necklace at my wedding, which made me so warm and fuzzy.

Your favorite type of pearl: Natural conch pearls that look like jelly beans. They also happen to be the rarest pearls in the world.

First job ever: Seasonal job at a post office in Japan.

How did you get started designing jewelry? My mom was hesitant about letting me get my ears pierced as a child. I had to get creative to convert pierced earrings into clip-ons. I also made a lot of friendship bracelets.

If you weren’t designing jewelry, what would you be doing? Felting and working in textiles.

Jewelry you’re wearing right now: Sliced Tahitian Pearl Geode ring with white diamonds, wedding ring set, diamond pendant, petite akoya pearl rope, Tahitian keshi studs with rubies from my Point collection.

Five items on your desk right now: Pearls, gemstones, water bottle that tracks my daily H2O intake, a forever-long to-do list, and an amethyst geode.

Five songs on your playlist: “Cheap Thrills,” Sia, feat. Sean Paul; “Starboy,” The Weeknd, feat. Daft Punk; “Warm Water,” Banks; “We Found Love,” 2Cellos; “Fancy,” Xavier Dunn.

Exercise regimen: Personal training twice a week, yoga, and an occasional run on the beach.

What did you have for breakfast? Every morning my husband makes me a mixed-berry smoothie with a love note written on a paper towel wrapped around the cup.

Guilty pleasure: Late-night online shopping + dark chocolate + wine = danger.

Drink (daytime/evening): Latte/pinot grigio.

First website you check each day (not your own!): Instagram.

Scent: Lavender, if I need to chill.

How do you unwind? Traveling with my husband. The last destination was Tahiti (pictured).

Favorite movie: Life Is Beautiful.

Personal motto: Be true to myself, be creative, get it done right.


From top: little h Luxe freshwater drop and soufflé pearl dangle earrings with rubies, Point Tahitian pearl ruby stud earrings, Tahitian keshi pearl and black diamond ring

(Yoga: Marija Savic/Stocksy; Tahiti: Mvaligursky/Betty; chocolate: Iravgustin/Shutterstock)

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