Pearls and petits fours

Arao shows off gender-neutral pearl designs at the iconic Peninsula Hong Kong.

Hong Kong-based fine South Sea pearl jewelry brand Arao recently hosted afternoon tea at the iconic Peninsula Hong Kong. The intimate event, a celebration of life in pearls, unfolded like a reunion for the brand’s growing community featured on Arao’s blog.

Arao afternoon tea get-together at the Peninsula Hong Kong. Banner photo from Peninsula Hong Kong.

It was at the height of the pandemic when Arao first began to highlight the lives of inspiring individuals through a series called “Wo/Men of Pearls.” Apart from their love for pearls, these subjects all share the same values of sustainability and conscious living.

Arao founder Mirabel Rosar recalls, “We wanted to connect with our clients and other like-minded individuals in a unique and authentic way. Through our regular Wo/Men of Pearls stories, we were able to build a community that inspires, enlightens, and empowers.”

Quintu Sacred Leaves Pendant by ARAO X Joanique

As a Hong Kong based brand with deep roots in the Philippines, Arao tapped into its network of empowered women from both Manila and Hong Kong. The circle soon grew to include inspiring individuals from Europe, the US and other parts of the world.

At around the same time that Arao began exploring gender-neutral pearl designs, the community began to welcome men into the fold. “It dawned on us that as a sustainable, conscious jewelry brand, we had to embrace inclusivity as well,” explains Mira. “So, we began to feature stylish men in pearls like +AC 632’s Ricky Toledo and Chito Vijandre as well as Hong Kong based Filipino designer JJ Acuna.”

Creating deep connections through pearls

(From left) Johannes Pong, Mirabel Rosar, JJ Acuna, Louise Wong, Thierry Chow, Noreen O’Brien and Joyce Tsang

For a jewelry brand, creating emotional connection is paramount. More than the rarity and value of the product, it’s resonance and sentiment that make a piece extra special. Through Wo/Men of Pearls, Arao has managed to create a community where creative collaborations and engaging encounters thrive.

“For us, it is more than just a blog or series of stories posted on our website,” shares Mira.

In the past years, for instance, Mirabel has engaged with several Wo/men of Pearls for its Alchemy by Arao series. These are capsule collections done in collaboration with various artists or designers.

(From left) Luis Espiritu, Bianca Salonga, Mirabel Rosar, Liza Ilarde and Elbert Cuenca.

The first from this series was a limited edition collection of scarves with photo prints of South Sea pearls by fashion icon Jo Ann Bitagcol. The brand has also found fruitful retail partnerships with Anna Flores of Chaless Spa in Central Hong Kong  and June Lau of Novel Fineries at the Peninsula Hong Kong.

Pearls, friendships, and afternoon tea

Quintu necklace and earrings by Arao.

More importantly, friendships have been formed through the Wo/Men of Pearls intiative. At the recent Life in Pearls Afternoon Tea Soiree, guests reconnected with each other. “This really is more of just a celebration of life and that includes small, everyday luxuries like having afternoon tea with friends and meeting like-minded people.”

Mirabel, who had also been away from Hong Kong for some time, intimated that the get-together was a homecoming. She confesses, “Unlike most events that try to push for a new product or collection, we intended for this afternoon to be very personal. I wanted to take the time to share my journey with guests and hear about their journeys as well. Of course, it’s also a good way for Arao to rekindle its presence here in Hong Kong after having been away for a while.”

Sarah Vee, Pristine Lampard, Tanya Somera and Karrie Bitanga.

After enjoying Peninsula Hong Kong’s widely loved tea service, guests headed to the Novel Fineries boutique (also at the Peninsula) to browse and shop Arao’s classic pieces.

“Like the bonds we’ve formed through Wo/Men of Pearls, our classics are enduring. We have had such a high demand for our classic pieces and so you can expect to see more of these in our site and partner retailers. Our classic South Sea jewelry pieces are well-loved because they stand the test of time and trend–and allow the wearers to shine their light to the world.”

Inti Earrings by Arao.

In Hong Kong, Arao is available at Novel Fineries at the Peninsula Hotel and The Chaless Spa along Amberdeen Street in Central. In the Philippines, Arao is available at AC +632 in Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati. Visit

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