Galatea Pearls - Jewelry by Artist


Galatea Carved Pearls were first created in the late '90s when Chi Huynh, founder of Galatea: Jewelry by Artist, accidentally "nicked" a pearl he was preparing for a Diamond in a Pearl setting. The cut that exposed the cultured pearl's mother-of-pearl bead fascinated him, and he wondered what would happen if he carved the entire pearl. He did and the result was spectacular.

Galatea's first carved pearls contained only Diamond in a Pearl settings. Today, Galatea Carved Pearls are integral to the entire Galatea line as a part of the Diamond in a Pearl, Queen Bead and Pearl Strand Collections. They are available in Tahitian (black South Sea), Golden South Sea  as well as white and peach freshwater. These are what Chi likes to call, "Pearls Without Boundaries." Yes, the jewelry industry was startled when we first began to market carved pearls. But today, they are prized. Chi's Galatea Carved Pearls have won design numerous awards, including the CPAA International Pearl Design Competition's Visionary Award in 2012 (Galatea Queen Bead Collection). In 2012, our Levitating Queen Bead "Hope" Necklace was the winner of a JCK Jewelers' Choice Award for Pearl Jewelry Under $2,500.

The pearl carving process has become more streamlined over time but it is still painstakingly done by hand. In 2012, Galatea opened a second carving factory in Soc Trang, Vietnam, dedicated entirely to the craft. There are over 40 unique pearl carving styles, most of which can be viewed in the Queen Bead Collection. Some are even more rare, such as the "Wind," "Raven's Wings" and "Rhythm of Life" Tahitian pearl pendant and earrings that are a part of the Diamond in a Pearl Collection.

As with much of Galatea's jewelry, Chi was inspired by nature and art when creating carved pearls. He says the ancient miniature Netsuke carvings of ancient Japan were also an inspiration. The carving technique is proprietary and not as easy as one might think. Perfected over years of trial, error and patience, each Galatea pearl artisan is trained by Chi. Pearl nacre, although softer than diamonds, is quite hard and must be handled with the utmost care. Each pearl is viewed individually to ascertain the design that it will best respond to. The pearl is then marked by hand and carved. Afterwards, it is polished to smooth the surface. The result is often amazing. With the depth of nacre exposed, you can actually see many more colors in every pearl.

See the full Galatea assortment in our Shop