Photo by Alain Simic, model wears Bubble necklace, earrings, and ring by Sean Gilson for Assael, two stackable rings featuring one large Gem South Sea pearl and one large Gem Tahitian pearl, Assael Responsibly Sourced Sardinian Coral Twist necklace, Assael NatureScapes earrings with Tahitian Pearls, Maligano Jasper, Sardinian Coral, and Aquarmaring

Responsibly Sourced Luxury – A Thoughtful Gift Guide

The generosity of the human spirit knows no bounds. When we love someone, we often seek fun ways to bring joy to their lives. Thoughtful gifting in the contemporary world can be a challenge, though. Many of us are expressing our affection with fewer but better things, keeping in mind the impact of the gift itself on the planet and/or the environment. Luckily, there are some luxury goods that are thoughtfully procured and created. Magnificent pearls and exquisite coral are two of nature’s most valued and beloved gifts from the sea. Here we will look at some responsibly sourced jewelry gift ideas from Assael. 

Precious Sardinian Coral is one of the most traceable gems on the planet

Clockwise from upper left – Assael Sardinian Coral and Cacholong “Frame” earrings, Three Bubble Sardinian Coral ring by Sean Gilson for Assael, Assael NatureScapes Sardinian Coral, Lagoon Tourmalines, and Sunrise Jasper earrings, Assael Sciacca Coral earrings, Model wearing Assael multi-strand necklace, Sardinian Coral and Tahitian Pearl ring by Sean Gilson for Assael

Precious coral, unlike reef coral, comes from deep below the ocean’s surface. In fact, only ten species of coral (out of over 7,300 species) are considered “precious coral” and suitable in the use of fine jewelry.  First, it is important to understand that these corals have nothing to do with reef corals. The very few species of coral that make up precious corals grow naturally at great depths in the ocean, typically between 50 to 2,000 meters below sea level. The harvesting of precious coral is strictly limited, and rightly so, because it is an important ocean plant-life species and all coral jewelry dealers have a vested interest in preserving the species.

In fact, precious coral is one of the most traceable gems. The international trade in precious corals is heavily regulated, requiring very detailed and thorough paperwork to prove the origin of the coral and to prevent overfishing. Not only is Assael the largest provider of responsibly sourced precious coral in North America, but all of the Assael coral comes from a very reputable source, the so-called “King of Coral” Enzo Liverino in Torre del Greco in southern Italy. All of the necessary paperwork comes with the coral, proving its provenance and its strict adherence to all international regulations that protect the species. For more detailed information on precious coral, please see the guest blog by gemologist Rui Gallopim de Carvalho on Understanding Precious Coral.

The enduring crimson color of coral is what makes it so valuable. Like gold, diamonds, or pearls, coral, when properly cared for, retains its unique color for lifetimes and can be handed down as a meaningful heirloom. Unlike many other colored gemstones, which are often impossible to trace, a gift of Assael precious coral jewelry comes with the assurance of its origin, as well as the rich heritage and enduring beauty of the coral itself. Coral has been used in fine jewelry since ancient times. 

Assael’s Sciacca coral is actually reclaimed broken bits of coral from the sea floor. Too precious to waste, the Sciacca coral has been gathered and set into fine jewelry where it can be worn and appreciated for years. Talk about a gift from nature! To learn more about the unique story of the Sciacca coral, visit our blog post all about Sciacca Coral, the natural treasure from the depths of the Mediterranean.

See images above for some specific precious coral gift ideas from Assael.  A classic coral strand is a welcome addition to anyone’s fine jewelry wardrobe. As versatile as gold or pearls, a coral strand can be worn with sweaters, blazers, little black dresses, and more, whenever a chic pop of color is desired. Coral earrings are another classic – from studs to drops or swaying fringe, choose a style that suits the face shape or hair length. Coral rings make great cocktail rings and can give wearers a little lift every time they look down at their hands.

Fine Saltwater Pearls are naturally sustainable

Clockwise from upper left – Elegance with Attitude campaign image, shot by David Benoliel, model is wearing Assael Classic South Sea pearl strand, Assael South Sea and Tahitian Pearl “In Reverse” earrings, Three Bubble ring by Sean Gilson for Assael, and two stackable rings featuring one large Gem South Sea pearl and one large Gem Tahitian pearl; Assael classic South Sea pearl strand, Assael Akoya Pearl “Diamond Connected” earrings, Assael South Sea and Tahitian Pearl “In Reverse” earrings, Assael Tahitian Pearl and Diamond Jabot brooch

Fine saltwater pearls are also naturally sustainable. Without healthy oceans, pearl farmers have no livelihood. Departures magazine said it best, in 2018, “Pearls just may be the most sustainable gems in the world. You see, oysters need pristine water conditions to produce high-quality pearls. Any decline in water quality, directly impacts oyster health, resulting in poorer pearl quality. … Thus, pearl farmers are naturally also stewards of the sea, in order to protect their investment.” 

The oysters live in the waters of the ocean anywhere from 2 to 15+ years to naturally create the beautiful cultured pearls that Assael uses in its fine jewelry.  Also, there is very little waste in pearl farming.  After producing a pearl, the oyster is often re-used to produce another pearl. When it can no longer be used, given its natural lifespan, every part of the oyster is then put to good use. The shell is used or sold for its mother-of-pearl (for use in decorative items). The oyster meat is also consumed by locals. For more details on why saltwater pearls are sustainable, see our post Why Saltwater Pearls are a Sustainable Gem.

Pearls are a feel-good, thoughtful gift for many reasons.  Pearls also have longevity; they are not a disposable item. A pearl strand or pair of earrings or piece of jewelry can be worn for decades and handed down for generations. Pearls have been relevant in fashion, in one way or another, for centuries, and the enduring luster of truly fine pearls is what makes them so very valuable. Unlike electronics or gadgets designed with planned obsolescence, pearls can be enjoyed for many years, making them the thoughtful, responsibly sourced gift that truly keeps on giving.

A classic strand of pearls makes a very considerate gift. See our post on how to pick the perfect strand for tips on buying a pearl strand for someone you love. For pearl earrings, consider their face shape and the types of earrings they normally wear (short or long, clip on vs posts, etc.). For pearl rings, make sure that the gift recipient understands how to care for the pearls as repeated exposure to chemicals in detergents and household cleaning products can diminish a pearl’s luster over time.

Fine saltwater pearls are not all white. If your pearl lover already has white pearls, consider adding to their fine jewelry wardrobe with a magnificent strand of Tahitian pearls or Golden pearls. Tahitian pearl earrings or a brooch can also make a well-considered gift.

Assael Angel Skin Coral is from an extraordinary vintage cache, fully traceable and exclusive

Clockwise from Upper Left – Assael NatureScapes earring in Angel Skin Coral, Sunset Carnelian, and Diamond earrings, Assael Angel Skin Coral and Aquamarine ring, Assael Angel Skin Gem Coral strand, Elegance with Attitude campaign image, shot by David Benoliel, model is wearing various Gem Angel Skin Coral strands and the Assael Angel Skin Coral, Sunset Carnelian, and Diamond earrings, Assael Angel Skin Coral Bow ring

Another fully traceable type of precious coral is Angel Skin Coral. Much paler in hue than its Sardinian coral “cousin,” Angel Skin Coral is a rare albino species of coral. The genetic defect produces pale pink, white, and salmon hues, as opposed to the fiery red and orange that we typically think of for coral. Angel Skin is no longer harvested to preserve the beautiful species; therefore, the existing examples are all that remain, making it highly coveted and extremely limited. In 2018, Assael purchased and made available a vintage cache of Angel Skin Coral from the Liverino Coral Museum in Torre del Greco. One of nature’s rarest and exclusively limited treasures, Angel Skin Corral also comes with all legal importation paperwork to prove its provenance. Too beautiful to sit in a museum, this precious, rare, and exquisite treasure deserves to be worn and appreciated. The Liverino museum still boasts some of the most beautiful examples of Angel Skin Coral in the world and joins Assael in championing this remarkable example of nature’s profound beauty.

The many beautiful shades of Angel Skin Coral have maintained their color and beauty throughout the ages, making it a favorite material for fine jewelry designers. Luxury brands like Bulgari, Van Cleef & Arpels and others have all utilized this beyond rare and distinctive coral for iconic and highly important jewelry designs.

An Angel Skin Coral strand is a gift that will continue to delight for ages, an heirloom piece that can be worn and appreciated now and passed down for generations. The subtlety of the color makes it a wardrobe staple like gold or pearls, wearable with a wide variety of fabrics and fashions. Angel Skin is surprisingly beautiful on all skin types – providing striking contrast for darker skin tones and softly adorning paler skin, as well. Angel Skin Coral earrings provide a level of sophistication beyond what is commonly available in one’s fine jewelry wardrobe. Not as flashy as diamonds and gemstones, Angel Skin earrings offer understated elegance. And for those who really love the soft pink colors, an Angel Skin Coral ring is the perfect option, as it will bring a smile every time they grab their phone or shake a hand.

For more information on Angel Skin Coral, see the Understanding Precious Coral post or Defining Exceptional – The Beauty and Luxury of Angel Skin Coral.

Natural materials make great gifts for nature lovers and environmentalists

Clockwise from upper left – Assael NatureScapes Tahitian Pearl, Sardinian Coral, and Maligano Jasper earrings, Assael “In Reverse” South Sea Pearl and Petrified Wood earrings, Assael NatureScapes Fiji Pearl, Jasper, and Spinel earrings, Assael NatureScapes Tahitian Pearl, Diamond, and Petrified Wood earrings

People who love nature will love the new NatureScapes collection at Assael. Finding unique patterns and colors in natural materials feels like treasure-hunting, and then pairing them with the perfect color of pearls or coral is only possible when you have the impressive collections that Assael has curated over 75 years in business. 

Creative Director and Senior Vice President of Assael is a nature lover herself. “I find myself drawn to unusual natural materials – Petrified Wood, Jaspers, and Agates, for example. These look like landscapes to me, like miniature paintings or works of art created by Nature herself.  I see organic scenes in all of them – clouds in the sky, sedimentary rock formations, mountain ranges… they evoke my sense of wonder and my wanderlust. They inspire me to create and to make them into wearable pieces of jewelry.”

Imagine giving a rock climber a pair of earrings that looks like a sedimentary rock formation. How thoughtful, how perfect. Or consider the gift of petrified wood for tree lovers or those who plant trees in attempts to mitigate their carbon footprint. The NatureScapes collection has a variety of earrings with petrified wood – in a variety of color tones, each perfectly matched with magnificent South Sea, Tahitian, or Fijian pearls.

Jasper is another fascinating natural stone, an opaque aggregate of microgranular quartz and chalcedony that often appears striated, mottled, striped, or hand-painted, like an abstract art painting that Nature herself conceived and executed by hand. Jasper that looks like tree bark with pale pink undertones is paired with Rose Tahitian pearls and pink spinel in a spectacular NatureScapes earring.  Or Maligano Jasper, evoking Japanese watercolors of Sakura blossoms, is paired with the incredibly precise color of Tahitian pearl in a simple and beautiful earring that nature enthusiasts could admire and wear as a physical expression of their reverence. 

For more information on NatureScapes, see our recent post about this exciting new collection and check back soon for new and ever more intriguing designs.

With so many gifts to choose from in the modern world, you can make sure you are thoughtful when selecting your gifts. Consider the values of the person you are buying for and/or make sure the gift reflects your own values, as well.  Keep the mantra “fewer better things” in your mind and choose pieces that are responsibly sourced with known origin or provenance. The better you feel about the gift, the more likely it will be enjoyed and treasured by your loved one. Be sure to try some thoughtful luxury gifts on for yourself while you are at it. Happy shopping! 

Feature image at top – clockwise from upper left – photo by Alain Simic, model wears Bubble necklace, earrings, and ring by Sean Gilson for Assael, two stackable rings featuring one large Gem South Sea pearl and one large Gem Tahitian pearl, Assael Responsibly Sourced Sardinian Coral Twist necklace, Assael NatureScapes earrings with Tahitian Pearls, Maligano Jasper, Sardinian Coral, and Aquarmaring

If you liked this, you might also like:

Sustainable Jewelry – Why Fine Saltwater Cultured Pearls are a Sustainable Gem

Sciacca Coral – Naturally Sustainable Treasure from the Depths of the Mediterranean

Understanding Precious Coral

What to Get the Pearl Girl or Guy on Your List – A Gift Guide for All Pearl Lovers

Defining Exceptional – The Beauty and Luxury of Angel Skin Coral

NatureScapes – Assael’s Tribute to the Breathtaking Beauty of Natural Art

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