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Our History in London – Exhibitions, Events & More

  • 5 min read

Our History in London – Exhibitions, Events & More

Over the last three decades, Coleman Douglas Pearls has become one of the most successful pearl jewellery designers in London. During that time, our pearls have featured in many events and exhibitions across the Capital.

Read on to explore our most memorable moments in London, from the nineties to the present day.

Coleman Douglas Pearls in London

Founder dubbed the pearl expert by Lucia van der Post

One of the first times our pearls featured in the London press was way back in 1994. In an article for the Financial Times, luxury columnist Lucia van der Post interviewed our founder Chrissie Douglas to learn about the classic appeal of pearl jewellery, dubbing Chrissie a pearl expert and showcasing her signature Biwa pearl designs.

Part of the Natural History Museum’s pearl exhibition since 1996

A selection of our cultured oyster and freshwater pearls were first exhibited at the Natural History Museum in London in the newly created ‘Earth Treasury’ exhibition hall in 1996. We then re-invigorated the pearls for the permanent loans section in 2019 and our pearls are now fully credited within the organic treasures of the world.

Teamed up with Wedgewood & Waterford for a charity auction

As well as exhibitions, Coleman Douglas Pearls has also taken part in several London charity events. One of these was a collaboration with Wedgewood and Waterford Crystal, where we teamed up to createone-of-a-kind pearl encrusted luxury plates to be auctioned off for Elton John’s AIDS foundation.

All major fashion brands of the time and those exhibiting at London Fashion Week were invited to design something and we were involved two years running. The first design we created was a royal blue and transparent crystal plate with pearls sewn into the rim of the plate with platinum wire. The second year we designed a tall choker with blue porcelain squares cascading down the back.

Modelled at the Scotch House Fashion Show & Chelsea Festival

In 2001, we were chosen to accessorise the Scotch House Fashion Show by celebrity model Camilla Ridley, who designed a range of clothing to be showcased. This was modelled by Victoria Smurfit at the event, alongside some of our most sought-after Freshwater pearl jewellery. Then in 2008, we accessorised a sailor-inspired collection for Scottish designer Graeme Black.

Our pearls have also graced the Chelsea Festival runway, alongside high-end clothing designs by Vivienne Westwood and Amanda Wakeley.

Toured the world with the Natural History Museum’s exhibition

In addition to our permanent slot at the Natural History Museum in London, our jewellery also featured in their worldwide touring pearl exhibition in 2002.The exhibition consisted of an immersive underwater experience of the natural habitat of pearls, a lesson on how pearls are created, and the story of pearls through history.

Our contribution included a multi-strand torso cover of freshwater natural coloured pearls in the shape of a crossover body, and a pearl lariat favoured by Kristin Scott Thomas. The designs were displayed in the Natural History Museum of New York, Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History and the Houston Museum of Natural Science, then in Atlanta, Toronto, Tokyo, Sydney, Abu Dhabi, and finally in Paris. 

Pearls donned at Harley Davidson’s 100th anniversary in London

In 2003, we took part in one of our most notable London events at the Mango Tree restaurant in Victoria, located at the back entrance of Buckingham Palace. Here, we joined Harley-Davidson at their retro-themed 100th anniversary celebration. We created 4 unique pearl looks: Audrey Hepburn for the 1940s, Prom Queens for the 1950s, Brigitte Bardot / Bond film for the 1960s & Rock Chicks for the 1970s.

Models included Sophie Hunter, now Mrs Benedict Cumberbatch, who wore an extravagant pearl scarf and deep armband, Sam Fox who wore a pearl armour in black, and Rosie Fellner who wore an across-the-body necklace. Our pearl belts and pearl torso cover in white with scattered pearls were seen on Lady Emily Crompton, while Amelia Crompton donned our warrior collection of leather and pearls.

Featured in the travelling White Magic exhibition

A couple of years later, Paspaley Pearling Company requested a Coleman Douglas Pearls jewellery design to be exhibited as the White Magic South Sea Pearls Consortium exhibition. Our founder Chrissie created a modern torso and earrings covered in unusually shaped South Sea pearls. The torso was named “Museke” which – when translated from Rwandan into English – literally means “laugh with me”.

It took a year to create all of the designs for the pearl exhibition, which marked 50 years since the first Australian pearl farm was created. The exhibition began in New York in 2005, travelling to Hong Kong, Nagoya, London, Shanghai, Paris and Sydney.

Pearls and wellies combined for a breast cancer fundraiser

In 2013, we took part in another charity fundraiser, this time in aid of the Breakthrough Breast Cancer research campaign.Rockfish kindly donated several pairs of bright pink wellington boots, and we designed and supplied unique pearl detailing to create an exclusive range of pearly pink wellies! Several thousands of pounds were raised through an auction and donations gifted by clients.

Regular talks given at the Gemmological Association of Britain

First approached by the Young Presidents Organisation to give a talk on pearls, Chrissie now gives regular talks to the Gemmological Association of Great Britain and the Gemmological Institute of America. Additionally, she has presented at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and to Relais & Chateaux focus groups.

Her talks cover what pearls are, how they are made, the different pearl types, and how to tell the difference between natural and imitation pearls. As a pearl specialist, Chrissie also offers advice on choosing pearls to preserve your investment and to enhance the wearer’s beauty. 

Multi-award-winning London pearl jewellery retailers

With more than thirty years’ experience in the industry, Coleman Douglas Pearls has won several awards within design, marketing and retail. One notable achievement was at the British Jewellery Awards in 1998, where we beat Breitling in the marketing category. We were featured on the front cover of Marie Claire, with Gisele Bundchen modelling our black Titania choker and a Chloe bustier. This made fashion history in itself, as a model was seen smiling for the first time in a couple of decades!

We won our most recent award for ‘Independent Retailer of the Year’ at the first ever Kensington & Chelsea Business Awards in 2018, set up to celebrate local businesses.

Where to buy Coleman Douglas pearls in London

In summer 2019, we celebrated our 30th anniversary with a pearl showcase at London’s most prestigious store – Fortnum and Mason. Our pearls continue to be stocked there and well-known celebrities regularly peruse our luxury collection.

If you’d prefer something a little more accessible or you’d like some tailored pearl jewellery advice from our experts, we offer 1:1 consultations at our Vauxhall atelier in central London. From colour-matching pearls to your skin tone to creating dream designs from scratch, contact us today to learn more about our bespoke services.


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