If Millennial favorite direct-to-consumer jewelry brands have all aligned on the world’s need for another croissant dome ring, Pacharee is going entirely the other way.
The contemporary jewelry brand with an old-soul appreciation for craft, named for its founder and designer Pacharee-Sophie Rogers, is setting the tone for a new mode of placing and prizing precious gemstones. And it’s saving back-shelf, once balked-at pearls in the process.
Pacharee (pronounced pa-CHAR-ee) pieces are as organic and unfussy as gems in their natural state, and that’s exactly how the 40-year-old designer with a feel-first motto — and no formal training in jewelry or design — wants it.
“Each pearl and each gemstone that I touch and put together, I feel like they have this kind of a natural essence around it that you can just curate it instead of creating a lot of artificial or ornate settings that really kind of hide their DNA,” the Switzerland-based, Thailand born designer told WWD. “[Even] clean jewelry like Tiffany and all these things where you just have one pearl, one gemstone and it’s super clean, they have their market and they have their own beauty but I just feel like they either hide or overcoat the story of the gemstones and the pearls.”
The story Rogers wants to tell is one informed by her background as the daughter of famed gem trader and cutting innovator, the late Gerald Vincent Rogers, whose gems found their way to Tiffany’s, Van Cleef & Arpels and Mouawad over the years. (It was that very proximity to gems and jewelry that pushed Rogers to pursue advertising before inadvertently finding her way back to jewelry after a move to Zurich and a lack of German proficiency led her to launch the brand in 2018, making clothing and needing jewelry to accompany it.)
“I feel like it’s trying to tell a better story by looking at each pearl and each gemstone that I work with and what is their natural curve and their shapes and their colors and how do I create the home for it almost,” she said. “That’s kind of my approach to it which I think came about from all these nostalgic memories I have of my dad talking about these pearls and gemstones and me kind of running my hands through the rough gemstones and just touching these pearls. I feel like they deserve to be recognized and be surrounded by settings and the story being told in a way that it really reflects their natural beauty.”
Pacharee’s story is one that also found its way into Carrie Bradshaw’s story in “And Just Like That.” And when Carrie wears something, the whole internet watches.
The lead in the love or love-to-hate new chapter of the formerly beloved “Sex And the City,” was gifted the ring in episode nine by her downstairs neighbor, a young jewelry designer acting as the creator of Pacharee’s pearl floret ring — and people took note.
“We talked about it in our own channel and the press really picked this one up and talked about it everywhere, so we’re getting a lot of orders in, yes, which is really, really nice,” Rogers said. The ring is sold out at Pacharee wholesale partner Net-a-porter, though it’s still available for pre-order on the brand’s own site (priced at 420 euro, or $478) with, for now, a 15- to 25-day lead time. “I’m really over the moon with Carrie wearing the ring. It’s almost like, for all of us, especially in my generation, Carrie is the ultimate fashion icon…so it’s almost unreal watching it.”
But what went into earning that placement (which Rogers said she wasn’t expecting until a customer recorded the scene and sent it her way) was no small feat for Pacharee’s goldsmiths.
“This Carrie ring,” as Rogers referred to it, had the most iterations of all of the pieces in her collection.
“I made around 20 to 30 rounds of changes on this ring until I was completely happy. And sometimes it’s just this incarnation or the feeling where I feel like, OK this is it, I’m happy with this now,” she said. “The idea that I had came about very quick, very simple, very easy…I just pictured all these — I call them florets — these little pebbles and the flower coming together…but then the refinement of adding half a millimeter here and cutting this short here, this 20 to 30 rounds of changes I think is what makes the brand….I really wanted to tell the best story and I feel like all of these processes that I go through, our shoppers feel it when they pick up the ring.”
Every Pacharee piece is at least partially hand-sculpted by jewelry artisans the Rogers family has worked with since the designer’s childhood. (Though Rogers toggles between her ateliers in Zurich and Bangkok, designs come to life entirely in Bangkok).
Even gemstones are cut contrary to the status quo. Instead of common diamond and emerald cuts, Pacharee presents gems closer to their rough state to keep things organic. Recently the brand started polishing gems on random facets (instead of more traditionally polishing all of them).
“I was really proud, like that’s my idea,” the designer said. “And then I spoke with the gem cutter who’s a family gem cutter who worked with my dad for a long time and he was like, ‘Oh, you mean doing it the way Mr. Rogers did?’”
Her father’s influence and intuition with jewels is still finding its way into the Pacharee product and process. “I feel in touch with him again,” she said. “It’s almost like he’s sending me these little notes — it’s annoying [laughs] but it’s also sweet.
“In all our designs you wouldn’t see anything moving away from the natural shapes of pearls and gemstones that we work with and all of our pieces are hand-sculpted at certain levels…for example, these keshi flat pearls that we have kind of an organic setting around it, those are being hand-sculpted one by one just because their shapes are so different that you can’t just use a mold and duplicate them,” she said. “We have those extreme pieces that are hand-sculpted through and through and we also have some pieces that are hand-sculpted between 20 to 50 percent of the whole piece and the rest is molded. We try to create that combination so people would still get that sense of the hand-sculpted beauty and the charm and the talent that we have from a goldsmith.”
Part of that beauty has come in the form of using pearls (like elongated biwa pearls and the flatter keshi pearls) few others want.
“We’re one of the first brands that plays around with these unique shape pearls,” Rogers said. In the first year of sourcing pearls for Pacharee, the designer didn’t find them in the storefront, would sometimes find them in the back or would otherwise go direct to pearl farms in search of old stock, which is what goes into the current designs. “No one cared about these pearls. But now it’s coming back and you definitely see more demand.”
Which means farmers aren’t shunning them like they used to either. “You see more of the trend…you actually see more of the interesting shaped pearls being farmed more so than four years ago when I started,” Rogers said.
Though she’s helped turn the trend on pearl farming, trends aren’t something the designer embraces much herself. In a way, following the feel of the gemstones and the settings they demand makes trend-chasing almost irrelevant.
“I think that’s the perk of not coming from a traditional route of jewelry design,” she said. “I’m not used to going through and sourcing ideas from Pinterest, from all these places. I don’t know where all the jewelry designers source their stuff but I see a lot of repetition. I think it’s almost like, of course your stuff won’t be original if you look at what other people are doing…. There are brands that are following trends and then they come and go.”
Beyond Net-a-porter, Rogers’ designs are also available at Neiman Marcus (though they don’t have the “Carrie” ring available either). Price points for the brand start from $205 for a pair of 18k gold-plated studs to $4,080 for an 18k gold baroque pearl necklace accented with cabochon cut rubies. Most pieces are available to order in either gold or plated gold, with options to select gemstones, in some cases.
The freeform nature of Pacharee pieces that appeals to an often repeat customer with an age range spanning 18 to 70 is, according to the designer, a little like abstract art.
“When you see abstract art, people may look and think, ‘I can do that, I just splash some paint here and there.’ But it’s actually more masterful than realist art,” she said. “And it’s really not easy to create abstract art in a way that it turns out beautiful and it turns out a masterpiece.”
But somehow, Rogers is figuring it out.
For Pacharee, 2022 will be a year to scale. And with more eyes on the brand, thanks at least in small part to Carrie, the expansion may be right on time to meet new demand.