Historical roots of passion
Our heritage and passion for pearls has its roots with our lead designer’s ancestors. Christianne Coleman Douglas the driving force behind Coleman Douglas Pearls has enjoyed a love affair with jewellery and design all her life; her passion and in-depth knowledge of pearls makes her the UK's leading pearl authority. This passion is based on a deep understanding of pearls, their tradition in jewellery and their history. The love of pearls runs in the family; Christianne’s ancestors include Alfred Smith, the pearl specialist and owner of A&J Smith Jewellers in Aberdeen. He spent hours both fishing for natural freshwater pearls in the river Don near Inverurie, Scotland, and meticulously drawing each jewellery piece that was produced and sold at his jewellers in Aberdeen.
The artistic influence that gets noticed … Thank you Lucia van der Post
Christianne’s parents were painters, set designers and muralists. This heady artistic background provided the inspiration for what would be her first dramatic pearl creation, presented in June 1994, and modelled by Miranda Moncreiffe. The Elizabethan inspired pearl encrusted dress was shown alongside creations from Amanda Wakeley and Vivienne Westwood in the historically based Fashion Show for the Chelsea Festival. The following year marked the true launching for Coleman Douglas Pearls as Lucia Van der Post, fashion editor of the Financial Times, crowned Christianne Douglas as the "Pearl Queen", in the Financial Times on Saturday "How to Spend it" section. Christianne has never looked back, she is continually referred to as Britain’s leading pearl expert, specialist and designer.
The passion spreads
This recognition accelerated Coleman Douglas Pearls from a purely bespoke pearl atelier into providing selected stockists around the world with pearl jewellery collections that are a vibrant and valuable fashion accessory, complementing and enhancing the wearer’s beauty without overpowering it. Presentations showcasing each new collection were shown twice a year alongside contemporary couture trends at the London, Paris, and New York Fashion shows. Coleman Douglas Pearls was then showcased in Liberty, London, Le Bon Marché in Paris, Harrods and Harvey Nichols Riyadh alongside Maxfields in Los Angeles and Wako in Japan.
Knowledge is key
This renewed interest worldwide in pearls as the adornment of choice, sparked a hunger for pearl knowledge, which Christianne was happy to address, already acknowledged as a leading pearl specialist in London. She embarked on a mission to promote pearls by giving educational talks to members of the jewellery world and pearl lovers worldwide. She first addressed a focus group at the Gemmological Association of England, with a talk that covered pearl history, myth, technical aspects and promotion trends of the pearl. This speech led to many more, addressed to: the Gemmological Institute of America, invitation only events at Young Presidents Organization in America and Europe, members of the Relais and Chateaux group of hotels, and invitation only talks to members of the Victoria and Albert Museum. These talks have allowed Coleman Douglas Pearls to communicate directly our expertise and passion for Nature’s most natural beauty - the pearl.
Recognition flies in the door
The first marketing award won by the Coleman Douglas Pearls team was the 1998 U K Jewellery Awards – Marketing Initiative Category - an honour we were very proud of, as competition was fierce and we were declared winners over world leading watch and jewellery brands with very significant marketing budgets. Coleman Douglas Pearls has since been continuously featured in the international press; and was chosen by editors of Vogue Magazine to be the only entry for pearls, in Vogue’s ‘Secret Address Book’ a “must have” booklet compiled by top fashion editors which highlights their favourite sources.
Pearls become a bit of a celebrity
At the same time Coleman Douglas Pearls was invited to have a permanent display of pearls exhibited in the Earth Treasury of the Natural History Museum in London. Also, Liz Earle who presented the highly successful breakfast TV show, chose Christianne to appear on her “Ultimate Guide to Pearls” where Coleman Douglas Pearls is described as one of Britain’s leading pearl experts, specialists and designers and was given extensive coverage alongside Mikimoto and Tiffany.
HRH The Princess Royal personally selected Coleman Douglas for a visit to our studio in Chelsea, these visits are designed to encourage designers whose work Princess Anne admires and wishes to endorse in her capacity as Patron of UK Fashion Exports. This visit was the precursor to the launch of -the Coleman Douglas Pearls collection for Hamilton & Inches with a high profile publicity campaign shot by John Swannell. Hamilton and Inches hold a royal warrant and are considered to be the most prestigious jewelers in Scotland.
Pearls get serious
Collingwood Jewellers of London also promoted Christianne Coleman Douglas with a one man show featuring Tahitian, South Sea and Freshwater pearl creations at their Bond Street store. -Coleman Douglas expanded their sights at the time to the USA and were declared winners of the Tahitian Pearl Trophy design award for North America in two out of four possible categories, both the winning pieces were "wearable objets d’art" , and were designed to accentuate the most interesting focal points of the body.
Wearable Art in pearls enters the US
This juncture in our history is interesting as it marks two main initiatives at Coleman Douglas with regards to design and market focus. The "wearable objets d’art" winning designs were the first multifunctional creations by Christianne - and gave focus to her US market launch which in turn culminated in Coleman Douglas being selected by Iridesse founded by Tiffany & Co as a named designer and promoted as “an artist in pearl design”
Leather and pearls a match made in heaven
A third and significant departure for Coleman Douglas at this time was the creation of the first leather and pearl collection, during the collaboration with Bill Amberg, one of many collaborative collections at the time that included Georgina Von Etzdorf, Pazuki and Helen David of English Eccentrics. This first leather collection birthed the Warrior look that has been such a distinctive and award winning design for Coleman Douglas Pearls. Coleman Douglas scooped up several other design awards, and Christianne was asked to judge at the prestigious Basel Jewellery awards.
Harley Davidson and pearls ? Why not !
The Coleman Douglas Biker range was born; here pearls are embroidered on to leather creating cuffs and chokers. The contrast between leather and pearls make these dynamic pieces utterly modern. The Warrior pearl collection which is both daring and innovative, contrasts Tahitian cultured pearls with leather, creating a barbed wire effect. The undisputed lustre and quality of the Tahitian Pearls is emphasised by the simplicity of the leather, These UK jewellery award winning designs are both shocking and unique. These collections attracted Harley Davidson and led to our joint fashion show to celebrate their 100th Anniversary with a ‘Retro’ Party - inspired by the 1950's sense of liberation, wild energy and ultimate rebellion, showcasing Biker pearls and Harley Davidsons. Celebrity models included Emily Crompton and Lady Emily Compton, Hanna Sandling, Rosie Fellner and Samantha Fox.
Celebrities LOVE pearls
Coleman Douglas Pearls became a firm favourite of Kristen Scott Thomas after she wore a necklace for her film "Life as a house", Kristin then wears her freshwater pearl multiple lariat by Coleman Douglas Pearls to the BAFTAS in London, the Cannes Film Festival and her Labradorite and Tahitian swirl to the premiere of Gosford Park.. Other celebrities who reach out for their Coleman Douglas Pearl creations when they want to look their best are Nicolla Benedetti, Julie Walters, Grace Jones, Bette Midler, Brook Shields, Rachel Hunter and Amelia Fox.
Pearls get really serious
The Curators of the New York Natural History Museum choose a selection of Coleman Douglas Pearl Designs to accompany the world acclaimed "Pearls" exhibition shown throughout the US, “Pearls” then tours around the globe from the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada, through Tokyo in Japan to Sydney, Australia in a show entitled “Opulence and Obsession” this exhibition continues to Abu Dhabi and the Musée National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris, France. Among the designs chosen is a duplicate of Kristin Scott Thomas's favourite Tahitian Pearl Swirl.
Tiffany & Co promotes Coleman Douglas Pearls in their pearl only stores
Following these events WWD unveiled the 5 designers chosen by Iridesse founded by Tiffany & Co for their exciting new retail stores focusing exclusively on cultured pearl jewellery. Christianne Coleman Douglas is the only named foreign jewellery designer chosen and the only one who is permitted to source her own pearls.
Black food launches tahitian pearl couture collections
Perles de Tahiti GIE commissions Coleman Douglas Pearls to design three distinctly different jewellery collections to promote the use of Tahitian Pearls within Fashion Shows, Exhibitions and Editorial using the Coleman Douglas Pearls brand name. These three looks are the Edwardian collection, the Audrey Hepburn inspired collection and the Biker Chic look. These three collections were launched at an exclusive black food themed dinner prepared by Marco Pier White.
Iridesse founded by Tiffany & Co unveils stores in the US
Iridesse founded by Tiffany & Co starts to unveil the first few of its many stores within the US, focusing exclusively on celebrating the natural beauty of pearls. When asked why four American and one British designer had been chosen Robert Cepek President of Iridesse founded by Tiffany & Co answered: "The designers were chosen because of their signature style and distinguished designs. We're honoured to be partnering with a talent like Chrissie Douglas. We are confident that her designs will be a fantastic addition to our collection and further enhance the opportunity for every woman to enjoy cultured pearl jewellery for every occasion”
South sea pearls go to the opera, get their passport and travel
"Museke" the torso cover, earrings and pin set created by Coleman Douglas Pearls for the "White Magic Exhibition" of the South Sea Pearl Consortium is launched at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum in New York. "Museke" plays on the natural lustre so unique to South Sea pearls. The "White Magic Exhibition" tours Hong Kong, Milan, Nagoya, Beijing, Dubai, Sydney, Shanghai Paris and Moscow and is shown at the Royal Opera House in London, the World Expo in Japan and the FT World Luxury Summit and it is finally installed at the Paspaley flagship store in Sidney, Australia. "Museke" uses Shell struts, morganite, aqua marine and South Sea Pearls in a daring and breath-taking design. “This Exquisite piece demonstrates Christianne's excellence of design and original use of materials. When it comes to a show stopping piece she dares to go where others fear to tread.”
From the BBC to the V&A to the GIA
BBC Woman's Hour broadcasts an in-depth interview on pearls with Christianne Coleman Douglas focussing on the versatility and diversity of pearls. Coleman Douglas Pearls sweeps the board at the UK Tahitian Pearl Trophy Awards using unconventional materials such as shell and leather alongside 18ct gold, diamonds and semiprecious stones. British actress Anna Chancellor presents the awards and becomes a fan.
Christianne continues to promote pearls both to retailers as in the recent talk entitled "The Practicalities of 'Selling Pearls to Retailers" at the Gemmological Institute of America (GIA) held at their London headquarters as well as to the general public at venues intimate and large, from our showroom in Knightsbridge to the V&A Specialist Talks with a "Passion for Pearls" talk to a full house at the Hochhauser auditorium.
Thank you Lucia
The Coleman Douglas Pearls team look forward to welcoming you and sharing their expertise. We will help you pick out new favourites and assist in re-invigorating your existing jewellery through redesign or re-stringing. We are passionate about pearls and remain indebted to Lucia Van der Post from the Financial Times "How to Spend it” magazine who first discovered us and crowned Christianne the "Pearl Queen". We have never looked back, forging ahead with innovative design creating “Wearable Objects d’Art” by making full use of our knowledge of pearls and their history.