Business Spotlight: Pearls by ShariNovember 30, 2020
A Passion for Pearls
Pearls are the only precious gem created by a living creature.
“There’s little that needs to be done to a pearl after it’s been harvested from an oyster,” says Shari Turpin, founder of Pearls by Shari, located here in Jackson Hole. “With diamonds you pick up the phone and say to the gem cutter, I need 12 one carats. So Bob, in his factory, will cut 12 one carat diamonds, all the same grade, all the same faceting, all the same shape.”
Not so with pearls.
“When we’re dealing with such rare pearls, this is no phone call. There’s only me flying overseas, and around the world 2-3 months of the year (prior to Covid) to personally curate the quality of product that we show here.”
To find the rarest items, Shari travels all over the world to the Philippines, Japan, China and France, just to name a few. And th
e travel is not always easy, requiring the odd helicopter or boat to get to the remote farms.
must be maintained worldwide because these rare pearl strands can take up to eight years and more to assemble.”
One of the rarest strands was presented to Museum guests recently. As Shari exhibited the exceptional item, she explained it took 17 years to assemble the 60 some pearls in the strand, making it one of the only strands of its kind.
Shari maintains that pearls are a uniquely personal item and have been seen in museums dating back centuries all while remaining relevant today. While at the Louvre in Paris in early 2020, Shari took note of art from the 14th century in which many of the women in the paintings from that era were wearing pearls.
“The pearl is a unique gem, which is why queens wear them, movie stars wear them, newscasters, CEOs and judges wear them. They express such elegance, but do not over shadow the wearer. They are truly complementary to those who wear them.”
Another aspect she loves about the world of pearls is the platform they give Pearls by Shari to touch people’s lives. When an oyster gets a piece or coral or sand lodged in its membrane, it has the ability to diminish the pain by coating the irritant with layers of nacre and over time, produces something precious. Shari sees the same as applying to humanity: “It’s like us getting a sliver. While we can’t go back and undo something painful, we can turn the experience into something meaningful, maybe even beautiful, in our lives.”
Shari is strong in her faith, which shows in her family life and in her philanthropy. She follows an open hand philosophy that she has embraced throughout her life. Her husband Ronnie encouraged sharing even in the early days, when they had very little. But as their business has grown, Shari has discovered that one door opens another.
“As we travel, we are always looking for opportunities to leave each place a bit better than when we arrived. We may be in the Philippines and happen to connect with someone who needs help to buy incubators for newborns. Our business gives us access to many underserved areas of the world in addition to the means to help. For that we are thankful.”
Shari and Ronnie were inspired to move to Jackson by the 1970s movie Jeremiah Johnson, starring Robert Redford. The couple opened an art gallery on the square while carrying other collectibles including jewelry. It didn’t take them long to realize the business could be more profitable if they made their own jewelry. As Shari became skilled in design and started to create her own jewelry lines, she acquired a passion for rare pearls. Because of their rarity, beauty and history, as well as the absolute adventure of finding them, she began producing pearl jewelry, exclusively.
Shari has been in business for more than 40 years now, over 25 of it in the curation and selection of rare pearls and jewelry design. Pearls by Shari has two locations – one in Jackson and another in Park City, Utah. The company also manages a robust website, and Shari maintains a high-profile clientele. “We’ve had people here from Washington to Hollywood. That’s really what I value – relationships – but it’s all because of the pearls.”
The Broadway store, according to Shari, doubles as an “information station”, as visitors often ask for recommendations while they are in town. When visitors stop by and ask what they should see while they are in Jackson, she recommends the Museum. It’s a place Shari loves.
“I think that people’s hearts are lifted when they see beauty and art that is inspiring. The Museum has taken the best of the best artists in every field that it represents and created impressions of the mist in the morning and the snow and the elk refuge so no matter where our visitors are from, they benefit from seeing things that cause their hearts to soar.”
“I think art does that.”
Pearls by Shari is one of the Museum’s Collector’s Circle business members and has been a generous sponsor of our annual fundraiser, Western Visions for several years. Shari Turpin’s products, as well as her son’s, Zachariah Turpin, are proudly showcased in the Museum’s gift shop.