Besides the collections, two things greet you almost immediately in the space of Purrl gallery in Saifi: a poster image of Audrey Hepburn wearing the iconic 5-strand pearl necklace from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, and the smell of incense. In many ways, they define the gallery as truly as the collection inside. An icon of beauty wearing an thing of beauty? Owner Roula Kassem couldn’t agree more. Nature created gems that are so beautiful and so unique on their own, without intervention, without further work. Their luster, their colors and reflections, their feel, everything about pearls explains why they’re objects of affection among aesthetes. The incense is “calming”; that’s how Roula justifies it, but it also reflects her connection with the East. Her deep knowledge in the stones comes from her frequent visits to Japan. That’s where the pearl culture movement started with Mikimoto in response to the extreme rarity of naturally occurring pearls in the oceans and the ecological consequences of seeking them. She makes sure to explain that farmed peals are also natural: they’re grown in the mollusks’ natural habitat deep in the oceans, not in ponds or other forms of artificial environments. Man’s only intervention is helping the animal to secrete the materials that eventually crystallize as the gem- a process that takes three to four years. This natural origin explains the diversity of the pearl’s characteristics and shapes.
Purrl was among the first entrants into Saifi Village very early into its inception. Roula loved the idea of an arts district and wanted to create a gallery that empowers and showcases the work of local designers. Despite the name, Purrl is actually not a one-stone temple, but a constantly changing exhibition of jewelry works of all kinds and budgets, where pearls come along other stones and materials in beautiful pieces.