In 1972 Salvador Assael took over the family pearl business and transformed it into a leading force in the pearl market. For nearly five decades, Assael pearls have created magnificent jewelry.
Assael put the south sea pearls on the map by breaking tradition to create a black pearl. No one thought any other color than white would sell. He created the first black pearl necklace and challenged Harry Winston to sell it. Harry put the necklace in the center of his store and sold it within a week. From that moment forward, Salvador was known as the pearl king.
Click here to view a documentary of Salvador Assael’s life.
Produced by three-time Emmy Award winner Dean Love and his production company Dean Love Films, the mini-doc explores Salvador’s enduring legacy through a series of interviews, especially with Salvador’s esteemed wife Christina, now serving as Assael CEO and President.
Black pearls are formed when that piece of sand gets stuck in the body of a very specific type of oyster, the Tahitian black-lipped Pinctada. This occurs in only one in 10,000 pearls.
A natural pearl begins its life as a foreign object, such as a parasite or piece of shell that accidentally lodges itself in an oyster's soft inner body where it cannot be expelled. To ease this irritant, the oyster's body takes defensive action. The oyster begins to secrete a smooth, hard crystalline substance around the irritant in order to protect itself. This substance is called "nacre." As long as the irritant remains within its body, the oyster will continue to secrete nacre around it, layer upon layer. Over time, the irritant will be completely encased by the silky crystalline coatings. And the result, ultimately, is the lovely and lustrous gem called a pearl.
How something so wondrous emerges from an oyster's way of protecting itself is one of nature's loveliest surprises. For the nacre is not just a soothing substance. It is composed of microscopic crystals of calcium carbonate, aligned perfectly with one another, so that light passing along the axis of one crystal is reflected and refracted by another to produce a rainbow of light and color. (American Pearl, History)