“The full moon has risen.”
This phrase, written in an email in 2003, signified the greatest discovery ever made by the Paspaley family; the world’s most perfect pearl.
“It was quite common for master pearlers, like my grandfather who captained the ship, to be thrown overboard so a pearl could be stolen by the crew,” Paspaley creative director Christine Salter told guests at the luxury Australian jewellery brand’s annual beachfront luncheon on Friday, on day five of Hamilton Island Race Week.
“There was no way for these old wooden luggers to communicate with the town, so they’d get back to town and the families would be told the master pearler had been lost at sea, and the pearl would make its way to the black market.”
The modernisation of ships and radio communication dramatically improved crew safety, and enabled master pearlers to pass on crucial information and significant discoveries to the mainland.
“But as you know radios can be intercepted by anybody, so my grandfather developed a secret radio code … ‘full moon rising’, meaning he’d found a pearl of importance.”
But the moment Nick Paspaley placed the 60.80 carat, 20mm round pearl in his hand, the company’s chairman knew he had made the most important find of his life.
“It was so remarkable,” Salter continued, “he wanted to celebrate its discovery by paying respect for this lost tradition which hadn’t been used for decades. My mum and my aunty were sitting in their office in the headquarters in town when they got this email … and all it said was ‘the full moon has risen’.”
It was the pearl which inspired the creation of Paspaley’s most iconic design – the Lavalier, a patented net design which encases a pearl without the need to drill it. This collection, released in 2013, was the focus of Friday’s Paspaley lunch celebrations.
“It’s such a beautiful piece to wear, its slinky its sexy … and that fact that you choose your own pearl means that every Lavalier is personalised in a way,” Salter concluded.
Vintage glass buoys, which inspired the netted design, adorned Qualia’s Pebble Beach as guests including Michael and Lisa Wipfli, Nadia Fairfax, Kate Waterhouse and Luke Ricketson dined on a three-course lunch by Qualia Resort head chef John Kennedy.
It was Kyah Simon, however, whose presence at the event had even the most jaded guests starstruck. Fresh off her team’s spectacular result at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Matildas player and her partner, English football star Faye Bryson, were invited onto the island to enjoy some post-season pampering and Simon was presented with a piece of Paspaley jewellery to honour her efforts. Having swapped her green and gold uniform for linen resort wear and Louis Vuitton accessories, the 32-year-old and Bryson were initially mistaken for fashion influencers by a number of guests.
The pair took time out on Saturday to visit the famous Heart Reef. “It was amazing, the water was crystal clear,” Simon said.
The lunch was just one of the social highlights of this year’s Race Week calendar, which also included an intimate soiree hosted by beauty brand Mecca Cosmetica to launch the latest addition to its SPF range and a beachfront dinner curated by Guillaume Brahimi.
The best action, of course, took place offshore.
More than 2000 sailors descended on the island to crew the 180 cruising boats, monohulls, multihulls, cruiser-racers and trailable yachts competing in the week-long offshore regatta, which is now in its 38th year.
Conditions were favourable, with Regatta director Denis Thompson saying “the breeze blessed us and while the last couple of days were heavier, most were able to handle it.”