Pearl specialist and jewellery designer Bibi Southwell is the creative founder of ORA Pearls, who specialise in minimalistic, elegant and timeless pearl earrings and bracelets in original and dynamic designs.
Bibi originally started exploring the world of jewellery making as a creative side-project alongside her full-time job in private equity. She spent ten years sourcing pearls and developing relationships with farming communities and gem suppliers around the world. After qualifying with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) she started making bespoke jewellery pieces for friends and family, and, in 2015, left the corporate world to launch her own brand.
The Latin word “Ora” translates as “shore” or coast” – where pearls – formed in live oysters and mussels – are found. These gems are iconic; for centuries they have been valued as objects of beauty, but traditionally, jewellery designs that feature them tend to be staid and unaffordable.
Bibi’s vision was to change this, and to “bring new life to pearls, with fresh and fashion-forward designs and branding at affordable prices”. She aims to achieve the perfect balance of modern and classic.
Frustrated by poor design in the pearl market, Bibi creates simple designs that don’t overshadow “the innate beauty and timeless character of nature’s most natural gem”, preferring to let the pearl speak for itself. Stressing the importance of a good quality gem, she personally hand selects each and every one. She crafts all her jewellery by hand in her Chelsea studio in London.
There is nothing more elegant and sophisticated than a pair of pearl earrings; the stone transcends trends and doesn’t care how old you are. ORA Pearls’ delicate and simple designs put a refreshing, and much needed, spin on them.