Pam Cloud Headshot

From Sea To Shining Sea

Roseate redefines modern elegance — and supports healthy oceans
by Roxanne Robinson

Sustainability and style should be synonymous in luxury markets. It’s a lofty goal for most. But in the realm of jewelry, one gemstone stands out: The naturally-sustainable saltwater pearl.

These rare wonders are also nature’s little helpers. Because of their ability to filter nitrogen from the water, saltwater pearls help maintain the health and stability of ocean environments. This knowledge, coupled with a desire to reimagine pearl jewelry, inspired former Tiffany executive Pam Cloud to embrace the possibilities of pearls. Joining forces with former colleagues, Cloud launched Roseate — pearl jewelry with a contemporary spin.

“I noticed this white space in jewelry with more room for brands focused on modern pearls with an element of design. I have loved the idea ever since Tiffany did the Iridesse project,” Cloud recently told Ac Magazine over Zoom. Cloud is the former chief merchandising officer at Tiffany & Co. Her career spanned 25 years with the now LVMH-owned luxury brand and helped her form strong ties to Michael Kowalski, former chairman of the board and CEO. Kowalski, an investor and advisor to Roseate, has been instrumental in helping with the launch. In fact, he even played a role in Roseate’s birth story by helping Cloud to shape the original idea, long before style icons Harry Styles and Pharrell Williams launched the gem’s most recent cultural moment.

Cloud knew that saltwater pearls, which include Akoya, Tahitian, and South Sea pearls, carry the exceptional luster and color variations she targets for Roseate. Produced by mollusks in seas and oceans, these gems are more rare than freshwater pearls (which are made by mollusks that live in rivers, lakes, and ponds.) Cloud also understood that mollusks that produce saltwater pearls are instrumental in minimizing disruptions to the ocean’s biosphere. By filtering the water of excess nitrogen, these mollusks keep excess algae at bay and make it easier for other ocean flora and fauna to thrive.

For Cloud and company it matters where the pearls come from — it’s critical to find the right supplier, she said. “Our focus on sustainability is defined by traceability and using vendors with ethical labor practices — to be on the right side of understanding recyclable gold, for instance. Knowing the pearl farmers is important to us.” Thus, Cloud embarked on a two-week journey this summer to meet renowned supplier Paspaley, located in the Kimberley region near Broome, Australia. “They did it before it was sustainable — before it was a buzzword — with knowledge passed down from prior generations. I thought I knew a lot, but like with any gemstone, there is so much to learn. The Australian government highly regulates pearl farming and the oceans are currently healthier than ever.” (Roseate plans to meet its Tahitian pearl supplier Kamoka in January, reinforcing its traceability ethos.)

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Cloud’s learning adventure involved going to sea, on farming expeditions where workers collect oysters from the bottom of the Indian Ocean to transport them and seed them at oyster farms in Curry Bay. Cloud noted that on the farms an American Mississippi clamshell provides the ‘irritant’ that enables the mollusks to produce pearls. Caretakers oversee the harvesting of the mollusks for two years. Each shell can be reseeded two or three times, after which the pearl meat, considered a delicacy, can be eaten. “There is nothing like seeing it or experiencing it. It’s environmental good news,” she said.

Turning these beautiful gems into pieces that can be worn is the job of jeweler Eddie Borgo. Cloud met Borgo circa 2013 when he was tapped to do a project with Tiffany — she knew the affable Borgo would be the right partner for creating a collection for Roseate. “His design point-of-view is edgier than my style, which is more grandma-chic,” Cloud chuckled. “It’s not Eddie’s style at all, but we offset each other. I like soft, feminine, and girly. Though his work is sensual and fluid, he brought an edge to it.” An edge that is essential to flipping the narrative from grandma’s pearls to cool jewelry.

The pair were clear on using the water as inspiration and wanting to use mother-of-pearl alongside the saltwater pearls. Cloud is also keen on jewelry with symbols and meaning. Motifs such as water droplets, hearts, and padlocks are prevalent in the designs. “Eddie came up with the idea for the seven wands, like talismans that can do magic. While we have attributed names to them, the customer can attribute their meanings. Roseate is about styling pearls in a new way; a single pearl pendant is also a hallmark of the designs.”

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Getting the product into customers’ hands has also evolved from website-only to a newly opened retail space. Cloud calls it a “shop-up” due to its current temporary standing but potential for permanence if all aligns nicely. Located on bustling Bleecker Street between West 10th and Christopher Street, the store will be open at least through June 2024. “We’re Tiffany people; we love stores,” said Cloud, who also recruited Linda Buckley, a long-time Tiffany public relations executive, to be Roseate’s PR representative.

“We are a small format store. Think Main Street, not malls. The store will be a great place to test the format and customer preferences,” said Cloud. The 1000-square-foot space was designed by pop-up expert Kyle Diener, who bathed the boutique in the brand’s pink and grey color scheme. Most items in the store average $1,000, retail.

Roseate is also available in the start-up-centric Showfield’s department store in Georgetown, Washington D.C. But wholesale will be executed slowly and strategically, according to Cloud. “The retailers need to love pearls and tell the story; we’re not just a brand to be put in a case with a sign.” As a result, the focus with brick-and-mortar retailers is on independent jewelry stores and fashion boutiques that carry jewelry.

Roseate is deeply committed to giving back to ocean environments and helping to clean waterways around the globe. The brand has already committed to the local Billion Oyster Project, which is dedicated to rebuilding the oyster population that kept New York harbor clean for centuries before the population was wiped out.

“We are donating 20 percent of the sales of the Bloom Wand to this initiative and will also partner with The Conservation Fund on our Water Wand,” explained Cloud. By the end of the year, the remaining five wands — including Love and Unity — will be partnered with organizations dedicated to healthy water.

When you consider that the fundamental form of the collection is a glistening droplet of water, it naturally follows that Roseate would keep its attention on the sea and the sustainability of saltwater pearls. After all, healthy oceans equal healthy pearls. When that is combined with the modern and unique designs of the collection, there’s no limit to what can follow.

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