Paspaley is above all a pearling family. Celebrating 80 years of pearling heritage, we hold a long romance with the Australian South Sea pearl; one filled with adventure, passion, toil and mystery.
Our passion and expertise runs through three generations, as does our deep love and respect for this mysterious process, in which we have learned to coax these beautiful treasures from nature.
From our humble beginnings as a natural pearl company in the 1930s, our pearling fleet has dived the Indian Ocean and Arafura Sea for the rare Pinctada maxima oyster for over 70 years. Prized for their huge shells of lustrous mother of pearl, these solitary sea creatures would occasionally reveal a rare natural pearl, treasured for its incomparable size and magnificence. Celebrated as ‘The Queen of Pearls, and the 'Pearl of Queens’, natural South Sea pearls have been the sensation of the pearl world throughout the ages.
Our Chairman, Nick Paspaley, has fond memories of a familiar scene from his childhood. Returning from days at sea to the famed pearling port of Darwin, his father and fellow pearlers would spend many an evening inspecting the prize of their latest find. Entranced by the allure of a sublime natural pearl cradled in their weathered fingers, they would discuss its virtues, mesmerized by its lustre and beauty whilst sharing stories and ambitions. Sadly, by the 1950’s, Nick watched as his father’s domain of the natural pearl was destroyed by man’s love of the treasure. Overfishing had pushed the world’s natural pearl beds virtually to extinction.
Fortunately, the Japanese cultured pearl was a reality by the 1950s and was quickly embraced by the fashion world. Yet it was the elusive splendour, unrivalled allure and size of the natural South Sea pearl that challenged man to coax the native Australian pearl oyster to produce a cultured pearl.
This quest for a partnership between man and nature with the “king of pearl oysters” was riddled with mystery and strife. The intricacies of this solitary pearl oyster, found only in Mother Nature’s most remote and challenging environments, demanded years of devotion and patience to unravel.
Partnering with the Japanese in the 1950s, Paspaley continued to develop unique pearl culture techniques with a focus on quality. Over the next 30 years Paspaley’s unwavering obsession with natural beauty was eventually compensated with astonishing results.
Born with distinct natural luminosity in a fascinating array of colours and shapes, the treasures of each successive Paspaley harvest increased in beauty until finally rivalling the magnificence of the finest of natural pearls; a beauty previously unseen in the world of cultured pearls.
In harnessing the natural beauty of nature, Paspaley had revolutionised the cultured pearl industry.