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Getting a Real Pearl Education

Getting a Real Pearl Education

As this blog progresses, there are several educational topics that I plan to explore.  Topics, such as the grain-of-sand myth and the art of pearl culturing are high on my list. But to cover every possible topic related to pearls would take much more than a simple blog – the information could fill a number of different texts.

I’ve been asked many times over the years what pearl books or resources do I recommend for someone who wants to have a serious pearl education. The following are some of my best recommendations.
A decade ago, I started writing content for this website and added a pearl discussion forum. The Internet was filled with misinformation and no single educational authority existed. Today, Pearl-Guide is the largest pearl-information source in the world with nearly 100,000 pages of pearl-related content and nearly 4,000 active members. The membership is comprised of pearl lovers, collectors, farmers, producers, processors, importers, exports, wholesalers, retailers … the list goes on. It’s difficult to pose a question on that hasn’t already been answered., The World's Largest Pearl Information Source

Pearls by Elizabeth Strack
Pearls is likely the most comprehensive and relatively up to date book available today. To pearl experts and collectors, this book is the published authority.

The Book of the Pearl by George Kunz and Charles Stevenson
The book was first published in 1908, but was as comprehensive as Strack’s book was of the era.

Pearls by Hubert Bari
This book is the second written by Hubert Bari that I’ve read and appreciated. His first was a thorough account of the conch pearl business with amazing photographs. This second book is more of a general pearl-educational book, but is very well-written and contains a lot of magnificent photography.


Pearls and Pearling Life by Edwin Streeter
If you find the desire to immerse yourself into the life onboard a pearling lugger of the 1800’s, this book will do it. Originally published in 1886, this book was owned mostly by collectors. In 2006, Hesperian Press published it once again.

Pearl Buying Guide by Renee Newman
The guide is a good book for those wanting to learn enough to make an educated buying decision, but doesn’t delve very deep into the history and market of the gem.

The Pearl Oyster by Paul Southgate and John Lucas
Is pearl farming in your future? If so, you’ll want to read book. If you’re able to make it through all 16 chapters, you will know far more than most about pearl oyster biology.

GIA Graduate Pearls Program
The Pearls course was written by a close friend and mentor of mine, Mr. Doug Fiske, who recently retired from GIA’s course writing department. I had the pleasure of traveling to China with Doug to do research for this course. Sadly, Doug retired before the course was finished and the editing, as well as the writing of captions for photos, was left in hands not nearly as capable or experienced. Overall, the course is worth taking. But it definitely could have been better.

Looking over my bookshelf, there are at least a dozen other books that I’ve found to be worthwhile reads over the years, including an old Xerox copy of the 91-page report on Pearl Cultured in Japan written for the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. If anyone would care for a few more recommendations, feel free to email me.

A Pearl to Bridget

We have been deeply honored to be a part of the “A Pearl to Bridget” project, a grassroots project started by Malinda Humes and Alisen Dupré, to honor a courageous breast cancer advocate Bridget Spence. Her story of fighting Metastatic Breast Cancer beginning at age 21 has inspired thousands of people around the world. She recently posted her last blog post, asking her friends and fellow advocates for one last favor.

It is time for me to ask each of you to let me go. It is time to say goodbye.

Over these past six weeks, my ability to breathe has been compromised. Every breath is a struggle. I cough all night and most days. I am exhausted. My mother and brothers have flown in to help.  I’d like to stop working and go enjoy a nice cold drink with my husband on a beach somewhere. I want some time alone with him. Time without doctors appointments and scans, without work, just the two of us. No PI3K pathways. No trials. No hospitals. Just Bridget and her Big Man.

Over the past three weeks, more than 500 friends of Bridget have ordered single pearls for Bridget, which we have turned into finished jewelry for Bridget and her family. Each singular pearl represents a person touched by Bridget, her important message and her courageous story. Half of every order and all shipping fees were donated to the Susan G Komen foundation in Bridget’s name. The donation in Bridget’s name is $5,122.

Pearls at our Tokyo Wedding

When Jeremy and I got engaged, we couldn’t decide where to get married. Jeremy wanted to have a traditional Shinto ceremony in Japan and I was dreaming of wearing a gown, decked out with pearls.

Since we are not residents of Japan we decided to go ahead and do both: a Japanese wedding that doesn’t legally count and an American wedding that actually binds us as husband and wife.

We decided our wedding would be held at a shrine in Tokyo in May, 2012. The date to wed is so important to the Japanese culture. There is a luck calendar that shows all the lucky and unlucky days to get married. When I started searching for locations and dates back in January of 2012, I quickly realized that all the lucky dates falling on weekends were booked. Since June is the rainy season and July/August are terribly humid and hot I was strongly advised not to wed during the summer. Fall was difficult to leave work, as we have an important pearl buying trip to Hong Kong in September, so we decided on May 22nd, a Tuesday. Tuesday was Tai An Day, which is the most blessed day for a wedding and we hoped that May would still be sunny and not too hot for a wedding.

We rented a “King” size (that’s how the gown rental place called it!) kimono for Jeremy which is called the Haori Hakama. I went with a white kimono with bright red outer gown with beautiful embroidery of cherry blossoms. I also decided to go for the traditional wig with pearls and amber hair ornaments.

There isn’t much accessorizing in Japanese formal wear, but I had to wear pearls on my wedding day, so we decided to change into a suit and dress for our reception dinner.  I wore an amazing vintage-inspired hair piece made by my dear friend Michelle. The hair piece made from ostrich feathers, crystals and 6.0-7.0 mm, round freshwater pearls. The feathers were a warm, off-white color that perfectly complemented the freshwater pearls.
To go with my strapless featherly short white dress, I wore a seven-strand akoya pearl choker on a 14K white gold diamond clasp. I thought Japanese akoya pearls were most appropriate to wear in Japan.  I have a huge affinity towards small-size pearls. I love the intimate and delicate size of the tiny pearls. The necklace graduated in size from 2.5 mm to 5.5 mm. These pearls were very difficult to get. We asked one of our most trusted akoya pearl vendors who called in all of his resources and found few strands that were actually set aside for Mikimoto.  The strands were AAA quality with subtle rose overtones. I enjoyed making the necklace despite the rush of getting ready to fly to Tokyo. To complete the look I wore a single-strand bracelet and pair of 8.5-9.0 mm akoya studs.

My passion is not only in pearls but also in felting wool. I have been felting wool since I went to grad school and it is a huge part of my identity as an artist. I wanted to find a way to incorporate the two materials together. I took the gold lip shell that was donated for the Pearl-Guide annual Ruckus Pearl Party from Jewelmer and covered the inner part of the shell with felted wool. I also sewed felted balls that mimicked the warm ivory tone of white south sea pearls and attached them together as a ring holder. Jeremy did not see his wedding band nor the ring holder until the wedding day.  His delighted smile was priceless.

I used a gold-lip South Sea shell covered with felt to create a pearl-inspired, felted ring holder.

Behind the Scenes – Valentine’s Day Photo Shoot

Valentine’s Day is soon approaching and we are busy preparing special products and offerings tied into the holiday. We have a few very special pieces we’ve never offered before, including our new Ombre line that mixes the natural dark hues of silver-blue akoya with exotic Tahitian pearls.

When preparing for holiday promotions we get to have a bit of fun! As an online company we deal in visually stimulating images and love, love, love our photo shoots! This week we spent a day shooting hundreds of new photos of two of our favorite models hoping for that one perfect shot that will be showcased on our homepage during the month of February.