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Flights of Fancy
Kai Andersen | Photo: Kicka Witte | July 9, 2013
Globe-trekking jewelry designer Valerie Van Balen celebrates beautiful bijoux on the Garden Isle.
“For me, jewelry is more than an accessory,” says Valerie Van Balen, one of Kaua‘i’s top creators of gorgeous bling. “It’s empowerment.” If the designer’s recent achievements are any sign, it’s clear that her pursuit of the truly beautiful life has definitely earned her a place in the sun.
Take Van Balen’s tony boutique, for example. It’s the exclusive jeweler at The St. Regis Princeville Resort on Kaua‘i. Here, the discriminating shopper can peruse exquisite creations that have been crafted under Van Balen’s thoughtful eye. On earning her place at the top property, the entrepreneur sees a perfect synergy. “I believe we mirror The St. Regis’ exclusive service,” she says, highlighting her company’s understanding of luxury clientele. Quite a few A-listers not only love Van Balen’s designs but her discretion, as well. (Private showings are available.) Moreover, visitors and locals have fallen for her beautiful pearls, which are produced by sustainable practices. Hence, the designer imports the gems from French Polynesia, which she visits frequently. In particular, Van Balen travels to the far-flung Gambier Islands for their pearls of unsurpassed quality. It’s that extra effort to find the exceptional that allows her to offer one of the best Tahitian pearl collections around.
Certainly, unabashed wanderlust and a love for adventure run strong in Van Balen’s veins. After all, that’s how she made it to the Garden Isle in the first place. “I moved to Kaua‘i as a teenager in 1997 with a one-way ticket and a surfboard,” explains the world traveler, who decided to move to the islands after a bit of research. The decision is one she always appreciates. “Every day here is so special,” she says.
In the months to come, though, Van Balen is planning to take her treasures far away. While her jewelry has already been sold on New York’s Madison Avenue, it’s London that Van Balen has set her sights on, taking note of the British penchant for pearls. Her jewelry collection is expanding, too, thanks to the sparkle of diamonds and precious gemstones. (She uses compassionate diamonds from Canada, meaning they are ethically sourced.) Paired with rose gold, her latest pieces bring a whole new shimmer to jewelry made in Hawai‘i. The St. Regis Princeville Resort, 5520 Ka Haku Road, Princeville, Kaua‘i, 826.6555, valvanbalen.com