Something special for the true pearl connoisseurs

Over the past few buying trips to Asia, Hisano and I have begun spending more and more time finding special pearls that break from the norm; pearls we appreciate for their rarity and beauty – often individual pearls that are best suited to be designed around. We’ve started amassing quite a collection of giant baroque pearls, rare-colored metallic pearls, Giant Edison button pearls, and many pieces that just caught our eye. But given that so many of these pieces are one of a kind, they never really have the chance to make it onto the website as regular items.

August is going to change this, but with a twist! Hisano, John and Allison have been busy this month, creating a collection of one-of-a-kind pieces as well as special, repeatable pieces with very limited selection. This collection is being created with true pearl connoisseurs in mind, so we are going to do what we can to make sure the connoisseurs see the collection first!

On Thursday, we will be posting a link to the special page from this blog only - that is when the connoisseur collection will be made available. The page will not be linked to the main website like most monthly specials until next week, and we will not be sending out an email to our newsletter subscriber list until next week.

A Sneak Peek!

Metallic White Drop Earrings

8 mm, metallic white drop freshwater pearls on 14k French wire for $35 – only 12 pairs available

 

Three strands of perfect, metallic white drops

Large, color-shifting metallics with complementing colored stone combinations

One HUGE, undrilled 17 mm button-shape Tahitian pearl

One HUGE, undrilled 17 mm button-shape Tahitian pearl

A few notable pearl finds

Following Hong Kong, I spent a week in Europe so we are just now getting around to organizing and categorizing all the pearls Hisano and I were able to find. We were able to collect quite a number of the metallic white drops that sold out in a day last April, and Hisano is currently making as many pairs as possible before reaching out to those awaiting their earrings and pendants.

While we found quite a lot of amazing pearls, a few really stand out as being truly different.

One strand of akoya was unlike any I’ve ever seen. We’ve often carried natural-color silver-blue, golden and natural-white akoya, but this strand is Pistachio. The pearls have a natural, pistachio-green body color with thick, Vietnamese nacre. This strand is one of a kind.

Natural Pistachio Colored Akoya Pearls

Natural-color akoya pearls with pistachio-green body color

Hisano and I spent most of our time looking for the new, unusual and spectacular. Much of this involved going through countless lots of loose pearls to find those rare exotics that break from the norm of typical pearl possibilities. Most of the time there aren’t enough perfect exotics to make uniform strands, so we will typically make either multicolor pieces, or pieces of jewelry that require fewer pearls like tin cups or pendant and earring sets.

That wasn’t the case with the lavender-golds that we collected. We were able to make one strand. The pearls are perfect, and all very close to 10 mm. This is quite possibly the best 10 mm metallic freshadama strand we’ve ever made.

Metallic Lavender Gold Freshadama

A perfect strand of 10 mm, metallic-lavender-gold freshadama pearls

We also spent quite a bit of time collecting fireball pearls. Most of them we kept loose for earrings and pendants, but with some of them we decided to be a bit more creative. Hisano spent several hours collecting enough fireballs with strange, copper-green body color with purple and pink overtones to create a strand and bracelet combination – side-drilled.

This one is eventually going to need a photograph on a bust to really show the uniqueness of the finished piece.

Large fireball freshwater pearls with copper-green body color

Large, side-drilled fireball freshwater pearls with copper-green body color

These are just the tip of the iceberg, and more special finds will be debuting soon! Since Hisano is working with the loose drops and other exotic baroques, I’ll let her describe some of those finds in her own words soon!

Just finishing up in Hong Kong

We’ve just finished up the annual June jewelry fair in Hong Kong, and while the show was not one of the largest, there were still pearls aplenty. I am headed to Europe from here, so I won’t be back in Los Angeles until the first week of July. Hisano is headed back now, many of the new pearls in hand!

For a quick recap, we did manage to collect a few more large, metallic white drops. We didn’t find as many as we were hoping to, but those on the waiting list for pendants should finally get their pearl! Apart from the metallic whites, we found a lot of truly unique, exotic freshwater pearls (click the image to the left).

Small Tahitians were still difficult to come by. The Poe Rava Nui auction was held just before the show, but small-size lots (with emphasis on 8-9 mm) were scarce. We did manage to pick up one lot from a farmer visiting the show.

Akoya pearls weren’t on the list, but we met one producer, a newcomer to this show, with a few amazing strands of 8-10+mm graduated, natural-white-color akoyas. We put a hold on the strands, which are now on their way back to Japan to get natural-color certified.

More pictures will be forthcoming when I am back in Los Angles and have a chance to unpack all the loot!

Heading to the June Hong Kong Jewelry Fair

The Hong Kong Jewelry Fair, June 2013

We are leaving for the June jewelry show in Hong Kong tomorrow, June 18th!

If it seems like Hisano and I were just in Hong Kong at a show, it’s because we were, just this past March. The March jewelry show is one of the large shows, while the June show is Hong Kong’s smallest. Although small, the 2012 show featured more than 1,700 exhibitors for 36 different countries and attracted more than 25,000 buyers from around the world. This year shouldn’t be much different.

Before each show and/or trip to Asia we compile our ‘Waiting-for-Pearls’ list. This is a collection of special requests for certain pieces and styles of pearls that we don’t normally carry, or that are simply hard to find. The longest list we have is of our friends awaiting more of those white metallic drops that sold out in a day. We are hoping to find a lot more of them.

If anyone does have a special request not yet on the list, please email me directly, Jeremy (At) PP.com. If we’ve already left, send a message to anyone on the team and they will get the request to us. I can’t promise we’ll fill every request, but I promise we will try!

Crowds registering for the Hong Kong Jewelry Show

The registration hall at the Hong Kong jewelry show can get quite crowded

 

How to Create a Perfect South Sea Strand

Pearl auctions happen several times each year, primarily in places such as Hong Kong, Japan and French Polynesia. For the most part, these auctions offer pearls in what are known as “lots.” Lots are parcels of undrilled pearls that can be separated into specific sizes, grades or colors, or they may be “mixed lots,” with an assortment of grades and sizes.

The majority of lots offered at any given auction are commercial lots, or lots in the lower quality range. On the A-D scale, these lots are typically in the C-D range. These lots tend to be the largest and bidding can be quite competitive because these are the lots used to make strands of Tahitian and South Sea pearls for the wholesale market. This is why it is very difficult, in fact almost impossible, to find strands of true AAA quality at jewelry shows. The A and A/B graded lots aren’t used in strands. They are sold for things such as earring, rings and pendants. In order to make what I consider a fine grade strand, it needs to be made from one of those top-graded lots.

I received a special request for a custom, 17-inch, 8.5-9 mm white South Sea strand last week. This is definitely small in the South Sea pearl range, but it’s a great opportunity for me to write about the steps in creating the perfect piece.

Step One: start with a fine lot of small South Sea pearls

A large lot of white South Sea pearls

Fine Quality 8-9 mm White South Sea Pearls

 

 Step Two: sort the pearls for color and luster

Sorting the South Sea pearls by color

Sorting the Pearls into Similar, Smaller Lots

The Final Selection of Pearls for the Strand

After the pearls have been sorted and the size needed (8.5-9 mm) selected, they need to be matched in size order. Typically this is something I will do by sight and confirm and correct using a digital caliper. This particular project, however, had almost no graduation. I used a digital caliper to precisely order them into a long strand.

Step Three: create a longer-than-needed strand

Two rows just over 12 inches would knot to more than 27 inches

I like to go a lot longer than needed when making a strand. This gives me the option of removing pearls that just don’t work as well as others or pearls that aren’t quite good enough (dull spots, too many blemishes, etc.) to be in the strand.

Step Four: remove pearls until reaching the desired length

The stage above is just before drilling and if it is a custom strand, this is the stage I will usually take a quick photo and send it to our customer for confirmation.

When drilling, it’s vitally important to choose the perfect drill point. Most pearls will have at least one obvious drill point, but some pearls have only the smallest of pin-prick blemishes. I find it’s easiest to examine the pearls under magnification prior to drilling. Once the drilling starts, there is no turning back.

Step Five: find the perfect drill point … and drill!

Preparing to drill one of the pearls

Finding the perfect point on a pearl to drill is paramount

Drilling a South Sea pearl

Once the pearls are drilled, I will usually string them onto a temporary thread. This serves two purposes; it helps remove the pearl dust still in the drill holes and keeps the pearls together before they are knotted.

Step Six: knotting the pearls

Knotting the Pearls

A knot is placed between every pearl in the strand

After the strand has been knotted we take one final photo to capture the true beauty of the finished piece before sending the strand of pearls on its way.

The Result: a perfect strand of South Sea pearls

One perfect strand of white South Sea pearls

Click on the image to expand