A handcrafted Australian masterpiece, featuring one of the largest & longest known strands of Keshi pearls in the world.
After 13 years of sourcing and 700 hours of handcrafting, Matthew Ely is proud to present Iluka.
This remarkable piece was designed and shaped 100% by hand, a rarity in modern jewellery making. It heroes an array of ‘nature’s miracles’ – including 42 incredibly rare South Sea Keshi pearls and the finest selection of Argyle pink diamonds; a tribute to Australia’s stunning gifts of nature.
The Keshi pearl strand and individual Keshi in the lotus-inspired flower brooch were sourced from off the coast of Broome. Gifts of the ocean, they were the inspiration for ‘Iluka’, a name derived from an Aboriginal word meaning “near the sea”.
Together, these pearls form one of the largest and longest known strands of Keshis in the world, painstakingly uncovered over a period of 13 years. There are 42 Baroque-shaped pearls in total, each one measuring from 14.33mm to 19.43mm.
“While a round South Sea pearl is a natural miracle, a Keshi is significantly rarer. These Baroque gems are completely solid and made of pure nacre. They’re often referred to as ‘nature’s happy accidents’,” says Matthew Ely.
“Keshis will generally be 2-8mm on average. Each of the pearls in Iluka is at least double that size. To source even one of those is remarkable. But 42? Each one the perfect matching colour, shape and tone for a strand. That’s a once in lifetime.”
“I have always loved working with pearls and was looking for my next ‘showstopper’ piece. This collection simply blew me away. Opportunities like this just don’t come around.”
And so, over a four-year design process, Iluka was brought to life. A detachable brooch was handcrafted by Matthew, inspired by Australia’s stunning landscapes and the aquatic lotus flower. Representing the rise and spread of spiritual enlightenment, the lotus is an exotic beauty that can be found emerging from murky waters
This brooch is set with a single Keshi Baroque pearl, measuring 19.43mm. It is encased in four petal clusters made up of 152 Argyle pink diamonds, weighing 3.66ct, 555 white diamonds, weighing 13.9ct, and hand-carved Australian rock crystals.
The Argyle diamonds were sourced directly from Rio Tinto’s Argyle mine in Western Australia, immediately prior to its closure in November 2020.
In operation for 27 years, this mine was responsible for 90% of the world’s pink diamond supply. With that supply having now ceased, the exclusivity of pink diamonds has intensified and demand has heightened, with collectors recognising the long-term value of these precious gemstones.
For the lotus flower brooch, a perfectly matched set of four Argyle pink diamonds was curated by Matthew Ely over 3 years to ensure that each diamond possessed a deep pink colour, paired to create a harmonious and uniform collection.
The shape of the lotus flower has been handcrafted in white gold, with an additional four ‘petals’ beneath the large central pearl. These were hand-carved in A-grade crystal quartz, sourced from the White Rock Quarry in South Australia’s Horsnell Gully.
The final lotus flower brooch is fully detachable from its Keshi pearl strand, resulting in a piece that can be worn in three different ways.
A Keshi pearl necklace: One of the largest and longest known strands of Keshi pearls in the world.
A Lotus flower pendant brooch: A cluster of Argyle pink diamonds, white diamonds, hand-carved quartz petals, and a single Keshi pearl.
A Keshi pearl necklace & pendant: The full ensemble. A tribute to the Australian ocean and wildlife.
“I needed to do the Keshis justice; to create something that was fitting to how incredibly rare these pearls are. This strand is one of a kind; there won’t be anything else that comes close," says Matthew.
Iluka is now available for private viewings at the Matthew Ely Queen Sy boutique in Woollahra, New South Wales.