Nicholas Paspaley – Executive Chairman of Paspaley Pearls
By Shereen Shabnam
Although Nicholas Paspaley has been a friend of the Millionaire Group for decades, I first met Nick as he is fondly called ten years ago during a project in Dubai aimed to put the city on the pearling map of the world. A man with a friendly disposition, Nick has fascinating story on how he brings the most beautiful pearls in the world to discerning jewellery enthusiasts and collectors.
Historically, the Paspaley family’s connection with natural pearls began in the 1920s when Xrisafina Paspalis, the mother of the company’s founder Nicholas Paspaley MBE, began trading in natural pearls shortly after her family migrated to Australia. Nicholas purchased his first lugger in the 1930s and embarked on a long career searching for mother-of-pearl and natural pearls, for which there was a strong market in London and Paris.
In the late 1950s, the company shifted its focus to the production of the cultured pearls for which it has become world leader. Today Paspaley’s pearling operations utilise wild oysters collected by divers from the same historic pearling grounds that have been providing the world market with pearls and mother-of-pearl since the mid-1800s.
Today, Paspaley is well known as the world’s leading producer of cultured Australian South Sea pearls. Less well known is that Paspaley had its beginnings in natural pearling. Today, Paspaley is one of only a few companies still diving for wild Pinctada maximaoysters, and is one of the last sources of these important natural pearls.
Because of their rarity, most of the natural pearls discovered by Paspaley have traditionally been retained in the family’s private collection, but in recent years they have offered some important pieces for auction.
Nick Paspaley was born in 1949 in Australia and graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Economics. Years later, he started to work as the head his family’s Group of Companies and got drawn to the romance of the pearling industry, in particular, developing a passion for South Sea pearls.
Positioning the Paspaley name at the forefront innovation and of the pearling industry took years of hard work. For Nick, it has been a voyage of discovery involving nurturing invaluable natural resources and a lot of persistence.
Paspaley has developed unique technology with the world’s greatest pearl production facilities and access to the world’s most prolific pearl beds that host the world’s largest and finest unique pearl oysters.
At Paspaley, pearl graders carefully examine every single pearl nurtured for up to six years in remote pearl farms to assess and grade its qualities. Every Paspaley pearl is certified for its natural quality and provenance.
In fact, the unspoiled oceans off the Australian coast are home to the world’s largest beds of the most prized of the world’s pearl oysters – the giant Pinctada maxima oyster.
With new designs, the mother-of-pearl shell industry boomed after the Second World War, as unprecedented demand ensured record prices in the mid 1950s but the invention of the plastic button changed forever the destiny of the pearling industry.
Virtually overnight the industry was ruined as the market for mother-of-pearl shell vanished and fleets of pearling luggers were abandoned. However, Nicholas Paspaley had a vision for a new future after witnessing the success of the Japanese in culturing Akoya pearls in Japan.
He brought the technology to the South Seas. He dreamed of using the giant Pinctada maxima oyster to culture pearls of a quality and beauty to match the natural pearls that by then were virtually extinct. Nicholas Paspaley believed that if his culturing efforts were successful, these pearls would capture the imagination of the world.
With an intimate knowledge of natural pearls and the fiercely determined nature of Nick led to the establishment of Australia’s first pearl farm in 1956 taking the Paspaley name to the top of the pearling industry.
Paspaley as a brand believes in creative collaborations with leading designers around the world for trends that ultimately inspire and influence design innovation. Nick’s vision of Paspaley becoming the world’s leading producer of quality South Sea cultured pearls guaranteed with natural colour and lustre came true with his persistence and collaborations.
Pearls featured in Paspaley jewellery are the finest and rarest of beautiful pearls. Each Paspaley pearl is meticulously graded according to five characteristics that are known as the virtues of South Sea pearls.
Nick believes that success in business can offer many opportunities to give you a rich and fulfilling life but it is important to have a balance between business and life and not lose track of the goals for being in business in the first place.
Nick was awarded The Companion in the Order of Australia, which is Australia’s highest civilian honor in 1999 for his services to Australia’s export industry. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the South Sea Pearl Consortium – the non-profit organisation committed to promoting and protecting the reputation of the South Sea pearl.
As pearls go hand in hand with the jewellery industry, Nick is a Board member of CIBJO – The World Jewelry Federation that helps foster confidence in the jewelry industry.
Having a supportive family, especially his eldest son and eldest daughter working in the management of Paspaley is a big factor in Nick achieving his endeavors.
His philosophy is that honesty, integrity, and sincerity form the base of the greatest achievements. Diligence, dedication and attention to detail in pursuing goals are also Nick’s secret of success.
Nick’s dreams are a reality today as Paspaley is recognized worldwide as the most unique source for the world’s most important pearls.