Sea of Jewels


Just a few years ago, Helen Nayak, owner of La Océane Jewelry and Gifts, made a voyage to China and returned with a collection of pearls that inspired her to turn her lifelong passion into a career. She began creating unique pieces of beaded jewelry for a Pittsburgh shop, Simply Pearls, before relocating to the Lowcountry. Océane Jewelry and Gifts shop opened its doors in March 2013, offering distinctive, custom-made jewelry created locally and by designers in France, Spain, Germany, China and India.

Less than one year old, Océane (“ocean” in French) is is making a name for itself in Charleston as a one-of-a-kind gift emporium. Customers will find original beaded jewelry, handcrafted by Helen herself, in her workspace located at the back of the shop.

“I only make one or two pieces of each style,” Helen explains. “Pearls are so natural and elegant—you can do a lot of different things with them.”

Helen and Ashok, her husband and partner, point out that not all pearl pieces are fashioned from the classic, round specimens we’re most familiar with. In fact, they say, pearls come in all kinds of shapes and colors— and Océane brings forth their versatile beauty.

Besides handcrafted jewelry, Océane offers a stylish palate of accessories such as leather bags, designer clutches, hats, beachwear and party dresses. Helen and Ashok hope to expand to the East Cooper area soon, in an effort to form a relationship with more locals.

Helen has keen eyes for trendy items suited to the refined tastes of Charleston’s visitors as well as residents, and she travels extensively to Europe, the Far East and American Jewelry hubs to find “must-have” products as well as designs for her own creations.

“Our goal is to find beauty all over the world,” she says, “and to bring it to our customers.”