Tell us a little about yourself.
Ours is a “Heinz 57” Australian family; German and French-Scottish. I grew up in Melbourne surrounded by livestock and myriad of other creatures. My parents were strict and loving, and they instilled in me and my sister a strong, ethical code of work, honesty and fairness, and being prepared to give more than we take.
I emigrated to WA in 1989 and took out citizenship right away! Both jewellery and bushman outfitting have brought me into the fortunate position of working for remarkably successful Australian families. Working for the Banfield family has proven to be the most rewarding role I could have imagined. The culture of Willie Creek Pearls promotes tremendous integrity, terrific support and training. This honest, down-to-earth approach reflects the same values my parents hold dear and instilled in me.
As a manager of a Willie Creek Pearls showroom, what does your job entail?
The role that I fulfil at Willie Creek Pearls is basically all about making sure our guests enjoy their time with us as much as possible. The amazing enthusiasm, insight and commitment that each member of our Willie Creek Pearls Family shares makes that responsibility an easy one to live up to and makes the hard work fun.
Elizabeth Quay is a new location for Willie Creek Pearls, tell us a bit about the new showroom.
Our showroom at Elizabeth Quay is simply a beautiful touch of Broome, right in what is truly the heart of Perth. Our back door is on the edge of the estuarine Swan River, and Black Swans and Dolphins often entertain us. So, visitors find that walking into our showroom feels like walking into a holiday resort – only with the largest collection of Broome pearls most of our guests have ever seen!
The Elizabeth Quay showroom is both a retail and tourism destination, you must get people from all over the world visiting?
Absolutely! Sure, we welcome lots of people who live right in the city of Perth and the wider metro area, but many people from around the world come to enjoy the almost year ‘round sunshine, delicious seafood and pristine environment of Western Australia. And they do come all year long. When I wake up, I never know who will come in and what we can learn from them, but I do know that we will welcome guests from across the seas into our second home and share our knowledge and pride in pearls with them. And if we don’t speak a particular language, we still share our hospitality and excitement, and of course, our Broome pearls!
There are a lot of different types of pearls in the showroom, can you tell us the difference between a Freshwater Pearl and an Australian South Sea Cultured Pearl?
Australia is the leading source of the highest quality South Seas Cultured Pearls over 12mm in diameter. Our oysters thrive in pristine, Kimberley conditions and in the care of attentive people and ethical pearling practices. As a result, those pearls that we offer as gems in the showroom are of a very high standard indeed. We’re most famous for producing large, naturally silver-white pearls with extraordinary lustre and hues from blues to rose. Integrity is extremely important to keeping trust with our customers and we bring naturally stunning pearls to their new owners.
Freshwater pearls today come mostly from China and pearls have been cultivated there since the 13th Century. These pearls frequently have more diverse form and colour, and can be lightened and or coloured, or even reshaped, before we see them set into jewellery. These pearls are available in high numbers so that the cost of adding them to your collection is greatly reduced, and it’s fair to say that they are one of the biggest bargains in the world of jewellery. This naturally lends them to being very popular as gifts.
There are Lunar New Year Celebrations currently happening in Perth City and around WA, why is the pearl so significant to Asian culture?
The pearl stands for Yin in Chinese culture. It grows inside a shell and can represent hidden beauty, wisdom and patience. Just as in many cultures, pearls also represent the moon and there is a story of the majestic dragon, bringer of life-giving rains, chasing the moon across the sky and trying to eat it. If you think of the phases of the moon, this all makes good sense!
There are many lovely stories about pearls around the world and I can’t help noticing how many are so similar. Isn’t it great to be able to celebrate New Year with people from across Asia right here at Willie Creek Pearls in Elizabeth Quay?
Guests of the Elizabeth Quay Showroom have the opportunity to experience a Live Pearl Harvest, can you tell us about what a Live Pearl Harvest involves?
Live Pearl Harvests are dynamic, fun and interactive so people can learn about why pearls grows, how they grow and what is involved with pearling in Australia. Guests can participate in harvesting a pearl from one of our oysters and it’s always really fun and exciting. We are all in love with Broome and our pearls and share that thrill with people participating in the harvests, often sharing personal stories and knowledge. Of course, the result is that guests not only come to understand what an enormous success story we have in Broome but feel far more confident in choosing their own pearls.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is working alongside some of the most successful, ethical and enthusiastic people with whom I have ever had the honour to work, meeting amazing people from all over the world and sharing the beauty of Australia’s rare Broome pearls with them all!
What do you find so special about Australian South Sea Cultured Pearls?
Australian South Sea cultured pearls tick all the boxes. They're grown ethically and sustainably, Australian South Sea cultured pearls are often extremely lustrous, they are big, bold and beautiful, they’re rare and they look great. Our Broome pearls tell the story of something mysterious and beautiful coming out of the ancient, extreme and trying conditions of Broome’s environment and against the odds, becoming the best in the world! Don’t we all hope to overcome the challenges to be the best at what we are?
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about Pearling?
Maybe not the most surprising thing but I think that the most amazing thing about Pearling in Australia are that we do produce the most desirable pearls in the world and that we overcome enormous and unavoidable risks to grow our Broome Pearls. Romance and danger in Broome takes the oldest known gem in the world to a whole new level of excellence and beauty.
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