HOW A DESIGNER’S PASSION TRANSFORMS A LEGACY IN PEARLS

“I love everything about them. When you ponder the fact that a pearl comes from a living creature, it’s so divine—almost supernatural.”

For more than thirty years, Shari Turpin’s life has been passionately devoted to a love of pearls. And not merely for the sake of the singular rare pearls she discovers, but for all the lives though at any given time, Pearls by Shari carries some of the most rare pieces in the world, it means something so much more to its founder. “It’s all about relationships,” explains Shari, who travels to the far reaches of the globe, maintaining close bonds with the top pearl farmers. Her flagship store in Jackson Hole has been in business for 30 years, while her successful Park City store opened in 2016.

“Few people are doing what I do. I am involved with everything from the farming, the people on the island and the harvest, to grading my own pearls and creating desirable jewelry.”

WHY HER SINGULAR FOCUS IS SO IMPORTANT
By eliminating the middleman, she can maintain a level of quality and design that is incomparable. “I buy directly from the farms overseas, design the setting and pieces, and sell them through my retail stores. Most businesses would change seven different hands from farm to store. We make sure it’s all being handled by one company alone,” said Shari.

HOW SUSTAINABILITY MATTERS
Shari explains that pearl farmers are concerned and invested in the preservation of the wildlife they rely on. They want to make sure the waters are pristine and the coral reefs are protected. “This affects the outcome of the pearls since the oysters filter everything through their bodies, including the toxins,” describes Shari. “Everything we do is done in an eco-friendly and sustainable way, because we are all very concerned about the oceans,” she adds.

WHEN IT’S WORTH THE WAIT
According to Shari, the health and wellbeing of the oyster is crucial to producing a beautiful pearl. It requires a delicate process of patience and prudence. “Pearl farmers live on remote islands with no amenities because they love what they are doing. Their oysters must be fed specific diets, patrolled and monitored. The oysters must be nurtured, protected from predators, bacteria and plankton. It’s a slow, labor-intensive process.” For example, a Golden South Seas pearl can take as long as five years to produce from conception to harvest.

WHAT IT MEANS TO FIND A RARE PEARL
Shari’s exceptional breadth of knowledge, along with her business model for Pearls by Shari, means that she receives the best of what is produced, enabling clients to find the rarest of the rare in her collection.

Many often wonder why didn’t this one-of-a-kind piece go to Chanel or Harry Winston, instead of a business based in Jackson Hole? “It’s because of my passion and my commitment to sustainability,” said Shari. “I am not just interested in selling pearls. I am also in the business to help keep an entire ecosystem in place. I understand that with a different business plan, thousands would lose their livelihoods.”

WHERE IT ALL COMES TOGETHER
To design her breathtaking collections, Shari works with seven master goldsmiths throughout the world to bring her line together. The drilling and stringing occurs right on-site in Jackson Hole. Clearly, these are but a few of the many remarkable reasons why a pearl store has thrived in Jackson Hole for 30 years, and why people fly in from across the globe to purchase her jewelry.

WHEN EDUCATION MAKES A DIFFERENCE
“Much of my business is word of mouth,” describes Shari. “I am very hands-on, as I passionately care that people are educated about the pearls—why a piece costs $10,000 to $100,000. I’ve spent 30 years on the floor, talking with tens of thousands of women. Buying pearls is such a personal experience; they are legacy pieces and family heirlooms to be handed down through the generations as they are so unique.”

WHY WOMEN OF ALL AGES SHOULD WEAR PEARLS
“I think it’s the most dramatic statement a woman can make in the world of jewelry. It’s a perfectly appropriate gemstone,” believes Shari. “In pearls, you are never under or overdressed. You can wear them to Th e Met in New York City with a black gown or while horse-back riding. I wear mine fly-fishing. If I am vertical, they are on. In pearls, you remain approachable. If I wore the same dollar value in diamonds and rubies it would be off -putting.”

Pearls aren’t just a lifelong obsession for Shari alone, as her passion and expertise has translated not only to her well-trained staff , but also to the next generation of her family. She works closely alongside her daughter-in-law, who also happens to be named Shari, and whose innate design instinct appeals to a younger generation. “At Pearls by Shari, we believe women of all ages should be wearing pearls.”