Intense Blue Vietnamese Akoya

We had another great time in Hong Kong, although it was a shorter trip than usual. Somebody accidentally booked flights arriving Hong Kong a day late. We still found most of the pearls we were looking for so I forgave him;)

While at the show, we always try to visit our friends who farm akoya pearls in Vietnam. They are a small, family-run operation that does such special things with akoya pearls, like the beauties I blogged about nearly two years ago and of course this crazy pistachio strand.

This time their show was about small loose lots of special pearls! Most were quite small, but some were little monsters!

Baroque Vietnamese akoya with intense colors

While the large pearls are amazing, what really captivated my attention were the smaller pearls with colors so dark, they went from blue to almost a purple. I have always loved little pearls!

I started separating out the darkest ones.

Hisano examining baroque akoya

Although the pearls are small (mostly in the 5-6 mm range), they are farmed in Vietnam so the nacre deposition is highly accelerated due to the warmer water so the nacre is extremely thick.

They only sell pearls like these loose, which is very typical with really special pearls. But making a strand of these beauties would be amazing … our friends offered to do it for us! They promised to collect the pearls for us over the next two months and make a few strands. They are going to be so special!

Hisano examining loose baroque akoya

 

HK Show – Burmese South Sea, Tahitians & Vietnamese Akoya Pearls

We had a good time at the June Hong Kong jewelry show last month and brought back some special goodies!

Before getting into the pearls, I think it makes sense to share a short bit of Burmese (Myanmar) Pearl history.

Burma has a long history with pearls, both natural and cultured. For centuries, the native sea-faring population of the Mergui Archipelago known as Salons, were the traditional pearl divers. Pearls from the “Mergui shell” (a.k.a. Pinctada maxima) were some of the finest the world had ever seen. It’s no wonder Burma was one of the first places where South Sea pearl farming was first introduced.

 burmese necklaceIn 1954, and Japanese pearl company headed by a Mr. Kikiro Takashima set up the first pearl farm on Sir Malcolm Island as a joint venture with Burmese government agency. The pearls produced are still today considered the finest South Seas ever – as seen with this Burmese triple strand.

Unfortunately, the farm was nationalized in 1963 and the Japanese pearl farmers given the boot. Burma maintained the operations for a time, but eventually the pearl quality became so bad, the industry eventually came to a near complete stop.

Well there is some good news for South Sea pearl lovers. Burmese pearls are coming back! Production is still limited and overall sizes are still quite small, but OH the luster! South Sea pearls are known for their soft, satiny luster, not sharp, metallic luster like fine akoya pearls but somebody forgot to tell their oysters that.

The pearls below are from a 323 round pearl lot we picked up, ranging in size from 8-12 mm, with luster like hanadama akoya pearls.

Burmese White South Sea Pearls

Tahitians also made the special list this trip. To be more specific, small Tahitians made the special list.

Our friend Alexander Collins from Takaroa (incidentally the same atoll we shot the Tahitian pearl documentary on several years ago) brought some very interesting lots to the show. Apparently the baby pearl oysters he collects to farm pearls have been uncharacteristically small over the past few years. So instead of trying to force a larger pearl from a small shell, Alexander started using smaller implants.

Tahitian pearls as small as 7 mm are a very rare find outside of French Polynesia. It isn’t because they are never harvested. It’s because they rarely have enough nacre to be legally exported. But Alexander left the shells in the water for the full 18 months, so his baby Tahitians have thick nacre and are only 7-8 mm in size. He had thousands of them! We only purchased one lot of around 1000 pieces. We aren’t sure what we’ll do with them yet, but little pearls usually end up going to little h.

7 mm Tahitian pearls

There was a Japanese pearl dealer who was attracting attention with a special Tahitian keshi lot unlike any I’d seen before. The pearls were a special dark peacock – the sort of keshi pearl one finds one or two of in a large lot.

Although the lot attracted substantial attention at the show it remained unsold until the last day. On the last day of the show, Hisano was able to convince (or should I say charm) them into splitting the lot, allowing us to take just 30 momme. These are going to be fun! Hisano is already pulling special pearls for her Tahitian Pearl Geode and keshi ring, the best-selling piece at her Las Vegas JCK Debut in May.

dark peacock Tahitian keshi

The final pearls to make it to the Hong Kong Special List are some of our favorites – Vietnamese Akoya Pearls. Our Japanese friends who farm in Vietnam always produce some of the most amazing natural-color baroque pearls we ever see. Hisano has a particular affinity for them and for that reason I am going to leave the special Vietnamese akoya news to her! That blog post will be coming soon.

That’s the special Pearl news of the trip. We also had a lot of fun with friends. This last photo is of Hisano and Justin Hunter of J. Hunter Pearls Fiji posing with Peking Duck :)

Hisano Justin and the duck

We’re about a week away from the big one … :)

Pearl Paradise Semi Annual Sale Tahitian PearlsOur annual clearance sale is coming up soon and we are excited to show a sneak peek of what we’ve been planning. We are bringing back the luscious Tahitian harvest strands and beautiful tin cups with colorful gem stone beads.

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CP15-TAN117Tahitian pendants are perfect addition to any summer outfit. The cool tones of silver and green are great colors to pair for warm weather.

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CP15-TAP66 9 copyFor our Freshwater fans we have playful ensemble of colorful jewelry.

Pearl Paradise Semi-Annual Sale White Pearls copyThese Edison drops have an amazing oil slick luster with rich body color.

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This sweet orange Freshwater drop pearl is complemented with citrine beads. I can think of so many outfits to go with this pendant!

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Many of these items are one-of-a-kind pieces or limited in quantity.

It all starts on July 1st! We will be adding products to the sale throughout the entire month of July!

Little h Collection Debut at JCK Las Vegas Show

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Since I came back from our Asia trip in early March, I have been micro-focused with just one project; the Debut of little h jewelry collection at JCK Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay Resort Convention Center.

little h was accepted into the juried Design Center at JCK earlier in the year so my assistant and I have been burning the candle at both ends building the inventory.

Leading up to the show, there were so many small components that needed to be built, ordered, made and researched. It felt like working on a million-piece jigsaw puzzle. Every day I tackled few pieces of my long task list and the end result was more than fulfilling. The long late nights I spent in my office and long meetings I held with trade show expert, John, were all well worth it. I had the most intense learning experience in my jewelry career leading up to the show and the four days at the event.

Jeremy and I packed our lighting equipment and displays, rented a van and drove to Vegas not knowing what to expect. I’ve done few craft shows with my felted art pieces but not a fine jewelry trade show in this professional level. John was a great help. He knew all the supplies I needed to bring for the show.

When I first saw the two empty show cases in the booth I slightly panicked with the size of the showcase being larger than I anticipated. I wanted the showcase to look clean and not cluttered but I didn’t bring enough earrings and ring displays to fill up the space. John and I came up with unique ideas to utilize business cards and extra fabric from the busts and made our own new display.

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20150528_174845We had a fantastic show. Pearl Geode and Finestrino Collection were well received. Buyers tore off our ad from the CPAA supplement page and searched for our booth to see them. It warmed my heart when I saw the excited look on their eyes as I explained the concept behind it. I had few pieces at the Press lounge show case and at the CPAA booth and both buyers and exhibitors came to check out the sliced pearls after seeing the display.

There were few lectures and events that were happening at the show. One of the events was an interview with Patricia Field, an Emmy award winner costume designer known for her wardrobes in Sex and the City. She styled five models with jewelry from the JCK booths and my seed pearl earrings were selected for the modern bride look. She was also excited with the earrings and referred to it as “Pièce De Résistance”.

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LH-FINO-FSE-SDP-14KY copy

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It was a joyful experience for me to share my love of pearl jewelry. We’ll be back in Vegas again next year!

 

Measuring Pearl Strand and Bracelet Lengths

A question we get quite often is, “How do I measure the length of my pearl bracelet/strand?”

The easiest answer is by measuring the total length of the strand from end to end, including the full length of the clasp on one side to the jump ring connecting to the “tongue,” or part that is inserted into the clasp when fastened.

Click the image below to zoom in on an example.

Measuring pearl strands and bracelets

The bracelet measures exactly 7.5 inches while the necklace/strand measures exactly 16 inches.

But why is length rarely perfectly exact the way it always is with chains or other jewelry?

A strand will rarely measure the exact indicated length. This is because no two pearls are alike; they are organic gems that are categorized according to a size spectrum. Therefore, a person might measure their strand and notice that the expected 18 inches in length may actually be more like 18.1 inches. This is especially true with strands that consist of larger pearls. The finished necklace may measure 18.05 inches because if one pearl were to be removed, the strand would then only measure 17.9 inches. An experienced and professional stringer will know this and he/she will aim for the absolute closest to 18 inches possible.

Knotting in between each pearl will add length to a strand, therefore what was a 16-inch loose hank (unknotted temporary strand) before stringing will probably turn into an 18-inch finished necklace once we knot in between each pearl and add the length of the clasp.

If you purchased a necklace or bracelet some time back, you might notice that it seems a bit longer now than when you first purchased it. This is because most necklaces are strung on silk thread, which loosens over time, and which may lead to the pearls having slightly more space between one another than when the necklace was freshly strung. In a similar fashion, restringing a necklace with thinner thread or thicker thread might make the length of the necklace slightly shorter or longer, respectively.

A tip for bracelets: If you usually wear 7.5-inch bracelets (the standard length), and wish to purchase a bracelet composed of large or very large pearls, you will most likely need the bracelet to be slightly longer than usual in order to compensate for the space that the diameter of the pearls take up.