How to Wear 100-inch Pearl Ropes

The girls are having lots of fun wearing the 100-inch ropes in the office. I too have been wearing the 5.5-6 mm rope for few days. I was pleasantly surprised that the 100 inch does not weigh me down or get in my way of stringing. We’re enjoying this monthly special so much and decided to share some of our styling ideas!

Our lovely Chenai, Director of Operations, is looking professional in the 6.5-7 mm rope. The first style is the multi-layer messy choker look. This style is perfect for the office since the long length will not be bothersome while she works.

Here is how to create this look:

Fold the rope in half and wrap the pearls around your neck two times.

Cut a ribbon of your choice (about 12 inches) and loop the ribbon as shown.

Tie the ribbon into a bow.

Move the bow toward the back of your neck.

The second look for Chenai is the simple knot. This knot looks a lot richer using the rope as double necklace before the knot is tied. It is a simple, elegant look for the office.

Wear the rope as double necklace.

Tie a knot at the center.

Sweet and hardworking Kim is looking fabulous in her dress with classic style of 5.5-6 mm rope.

When you want to keep this layered look in place the pearl clip comes in handy.
Here is how the pearl clip looks at the back:

Pearl clip

Last but not least our comical Allison (who makes us laugh and have a good time in the vault) looks amazing in the 7.5-8 mm rope in jeans. Who said you can’t be casual wearing a pearl rope? The bright white pearls add instant pizzazz to the outfit!

Creating Custom-Designed Pearl Jewelry

Past one-of-a-kind, leather, chain and color-shifting metallic pearl project

I’ve been requested to make quite a lot of custom jewelry in this past month. We make custom pieces on a regular basis like selecting loose Tahitian pearls to make into a special strand in specific colors, quality and sizes, special length requests or to create one-of-a-kind items, often requiring us to team up with our custom jeweler and friend Takayas Mizuno.

Custom pieces can be quite challenging with many email communications with the customer and a time-consuming process, but it’s very rewarding when the piece is finally done.

I’ve recently transformed a customer’s pair of Akoya stud earrings into dangle earrings. This pair of Akoya studs in a delicate 14K yellow gold setting was a gift from her parents and had a very sentimental value to her. But since she owned other pairs of simple stud earrings she didn’t wear them often.

The customer sent the earrings along with a pair of costume pearl earrings she liked. She wanted to connect a drop pearl to the stud earring. The first challenge was to find drop-shaped pearls that matched the color of the Akoya studs. Since Akoya pearls do not normally come in drop shape I needed to look into South Sea and Freshwater pearls. The Akoya pair had a very strong rose overtone over a soft ivory body color. I searched for very light golden south sea drops with a hint of rose. No luck. Even the lightest goldens were too yellow compared to the Akoya pair. Then I looked for freshwater drops and found few pairs that had strong rose overtones.

I sent a picture of the pairs and the customer chose the largest.

The next challenge was to solder a small jump ring on the customer’s earring finding to connect the drop pearl to the stud. After removing the pearls from the findings, I sent them to our custom jeweler, Takayas, who examined them carefully and advised that instead of soldering the rings it would be safer to get them laser welded. The jump rings were safely attached to the setting few days later and I assembled the earrings by wire wrapping the drop pearl and a tiny gold ball bead between the Akoya and the Freshwater pearls. The pair turned into a very delicate and elegant one-of-a-kind piece. The customer was very happy with the transformation and she is now looking into a new custom project.

Since the movie “The Great Gatsby” came out, I have been busy working with rope style lengths. The last project I made was 100 inches with a specific pattern.

Our customer wanted a long length that can be wrapped many times around the neck but didn’t want to be weighed down. She also wanted a clasp for versatility.

The pattern she wanted was 2 inches of small pearls with 7-8 mm pearl, repeat it 3 times, and for the fourth pattern change the size to 8-9 mm pearl and repeat. I suggested using 4.5-5 mm freshwater pearls that I happened to have for editorial piece, and also suggested using a 5 mm ball clasp from my little h line. I wanted the pattern and the pearls to be the focus and didn’t want the clasp to be too distracting.

I made a mock up of the pattern for approval along with the clasp options. After several emails we have decided to knot only between the larger pearls so the necklace will not distort in a wavy manner by knotting every small pearl. The biggest challenge for constructing the necklace was to get the 8-9 mm pearl come right at the 50-inch mark without changing the pattern drastically.

It took me few tries to figure it out and I finally changed the pattern slightly in the beginning to make it work. The necklace turned out beautifully. I had just the right amount of 4-5 mm pearls and were able to match with our AAA pearls in 7-8 mm and 8-9 mm.

My current project is even longer. I am now working on a 144 inch rope in 6-7 mm Freshwater pearls. I have made few 120 inches in 8-9 mm before but this would be the longest strand ever made at Pearlparadise and the customer has requested photos every step of the way to completion.

The first step is going through our stock of 6.5-7 mm AAA pearls and selecting 8-9 strands of matching silver overtone. In order to make 144 inches we would need at least eight strands of pearls, but I’ll also need to remove pearls that aren’t quite AAA. We normally tape these pearls with blue painter’s tape and replace them with qualified pearls.

After the selection and rejection process is complete, I remove them from the temporary thread. All pearl strands are made so that they slightly graduate to a larger size at the center. We purchase 6.5-7 mm strands and the center area is where the pearls close to 7.0 mm are. I divided the strand in three parts: the first 6.5-6.7 mm/center section of 6.8-7.0 mm/the last section of 6.7-6.5 mm.

I took the first section from all 8 strands and combine them and do the same with just the center section and to the last section. This way the long strand will have an even graduation of sizes.

After the pearls are arranged in the correct order, they are ready to be knotted onto a new thread. I am not using our standard silk thread on this since the weight is an issue. I am using a polyester or nylon thread  for strength.

Some of obstacles one faces when making such a long strand are measuring the right length for the thread, not tangling them (or untangling them when it does happen) and knotting them as tightly as possible – especially as the length grows.

Our customer has mentioned that this piece is not a unique design for a custom piece but a super long strand of pearls like this can do wonders with your wardrobe. It will instantly make a simple outfit glamorous!

Spring and Summer Pearl Fashions

The trend colors for this spring and summer season look great with pearls. I am particularly in love with the neutrals; hints of blush pink and the refreshing addition of minty greens and blues. We’ve selected some of our finest freshwater pearls with beautiful pastel colors, and bold and strong hues of Tahitian pearls to pair with the hottest colors of the season.

As featured in our Mother’s day shoot, I dressed Elia with blush color lace dress with our large white freshwater fireball necklace. The size and the unique shape of the fireball pearls have such a strong presence that I wanted to keep the outfit more feminine and demure.

The neutral colors are such an easy palette to wear pearls with.  We dressed Elia’s grandmother with the beautiful beige lace top with eye popping rich golden south sea pearls. She looked elegant without being overly dressed and the bright red lipstick tied in perfectly. The blossom earrings with golden south sea drops make an feminine statement.

For a bold and professional look we created this style for the working moms and women with careers. The refreshing white top can go well with any color pearls but the lavender metallic fireballs really make a statement. We paired the top with a feminine skirt and carried the silver color onto the heels to show a bold and glamorous look!

For a more casual look for spring and summer the refreshing mint color inspired me to match with the cool tones of Tahitian pearls. Pairing it with jeans will make a strand of pearls not too classic but more for a causal flair. Wearing a strand of pearls has an immediate assumption that you will look too proper but with adding pop of color with a cork clutch and nude color heels will make the appearance relaxed and fun. To amp up to a business casual look I would put on a white cotton blazer for a more sophisticated attire.

little h collection

I launched my website, in 2007. I was fresh out of grad school scrambling for a jewelry related job. I applied for couple of renowned and not-so-much craft shows to see if I can sell my felted work. To my surprise I was accepted to all of them. I decided to try out with one in Westchester NY. I had moved back to Los Angeles from NY right after graduation and took over my parents’ garage and made it into a one person sweat shop making about a hundred felted scarves all by hand.

Before I went to NY to sell my scarves I had my website built. The sole purpose was to showcase all of my wool artwork but I still had a passion for making metal jewelry. Since I wasn’t making any jewelry at the time I decided to have a place on the site that I can put in all my jewelry stuff for the near future. Jewelry making was the core of my art career and was always a significant part of me even when I was immersed in felting. I called it little h and the section sat quietly and sheepishly told visitors that it was coming soon for a few years.

By 2010 I’d been brewing some jewelry designs in my head and I would doodle some sketches here and there for over a year. I finally gathered all my drawings and started working on my Silhouette collection.  I have been in love with the obscure shapes of Tahitian and South Sea baroque pearls.  The unique shapes were attractive and I wanted to bring more attention to the outline of these shapes.  I sketched out individual pearl silhouettes and sawed them out from sterling silver sheet. I oxidized the silver to make them look dark like the body color of Tahitian pearls and strung the pearls with these cutouts.

After one long strand necklace was finished it opened up to many more designs including the use of semi precious to precious stones. Now the collection has expanded to Golden South Sea baroque pearls with 14K yellow gold and canary diamonds. The simple Silhouette styles with precious stones have been particularly popular and have been worn by Olivia Wilde and Miranda Kerr. The collection is still growing and my next endeavor is to complete the collection using White South Sea pearls.

The next little h collection that was created was the Baby Freshwater Collection. I LOVE tiny pearls. I especially love tiny pearls that are lustrous and round. Most consumers associate higher prices in pearls as the size of the pearls increase.  Small pearls in Akoya (5 mm and smaller) are very difficult to make and often times more expensive than the standard sizes (6-7 mm).  Smaller Freshwater pearl prices vary with quality but round lustrous pearls under 3 mm are not as easy to find and they are not cheap. We found few vendors in Hong Kong that carried 2-3 mm pearls that have excellent luster and close to round shape. I started making multi strands for myself and ended up with an entire collection with them. The Baby Freshwater pearls are easy casual wear that you can layer with other gold or silver accessories. It works well with turquoise or corals during the warmer season or can be layered with onyx, smoky quartz, black diamonds or other darker colors for winter. The Baby Freshwater collection is dedicated to all the petite pearl lovers.

The Knot Collection began when I was designing for our wedding bands. Jeremy is twice as big as me and when he hugs he can wrap his arms around me 1.5 times. We’ve called it “pretzeling”. My thin wedding band was designed from a pretzel shape and his band was inspired by the trip to Greece. We saw various ornaments and jewels decorated with Hercules’ knot and Jeremy loved it. His band is a wide Hercules’ knot in 18K white gold.  I was inspired to work with various knots and I introduced the first collection of Bows for Spring/Summer 2013 line. The bow necklace is suspended on 2-3 mm white freshwater pearls off center. Taylor Swift was spotted wearing the bow bracelet stacked with Baby Freshwater pearl bracelet.  The Knot collection is a growing collection with more to come.

The Colorful Pearls Collection began when we made a five strand torsade necklace using multi-color and shape freshwater pearls. The stylist we work with had an opportunity to style the First Lady, Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama wore the torsade on numerous public appearances and became a popular item of little h. The collection has expanded to using ribbons and findings to layer pearl strands in a versatile way to style from day to evening.


The little h pretzel bracelet





















Yellow Gold Bow Studs

Tucson Gem and Mineral Show 2013

I have been attending the Tucson Gem show with Jeremy for the past three years, and it has now become our annual event. During the month of February (some shows start in late January) the whole city of Tucson turns into gem and mineral shows. There are tents everywhere. Convention centers are filled with booths and hotel rooms transform  into small shops of beads, fossils, minerals and jewelry.

There are few things that I always bring to Tucson, but the number one essential item is the humidifier. Tucson is a lot drier than Southern California and it’s usually a lot cooler and windy in February. The dry heat of the hotel rooms and chilly winds play havoc on unaccustomed skin and it is a must-have for us. I brought travel-size humidifiers in the past but they just weren’t enough. This year I bought a quarter gallon size that runs for 10 hours.

When visiting shows wet wipes, hand sanitizers and bottled water are necessities. Tucson is not only dry but dusty and so are the piles of beads and findings. The tented gem shows have limited bathrooms (the good old port-a-potties). I get so immersed to the hunt for something special that I often forget to eat or drink. I am adding power bars to my list for next year.

The first day of Tucson is all about pearls. This year started with a lecture by Elisabeth Strack at 9am. Strack, a gemologist specializing in pearls and the author of Pearls the most comprehensive book on pearls, gave a lecture on “Pearl testing: How to distinguish cultured pearls from each other”. Working with pearls every day, I heavily rely on my experience to tell the difference in pearls. The lecture focused on the scientific methods to differentiate fake, freshwater, saltwater and natural pearls.

After the lecture the Pearl-Guiders met at the lecture room and began our “pearl walk”. The pearl walk consists of visiting pearl vendors at the AGTA show in Tucson convention center and GJX show that is across the street from AGTA. We started with the GJX and went booth to booth meeting with US and overseas pearl vendors. We visited Kojima Pearls who carries beautiful finished pearl jewelry as well as unfinished strands and loose pearls, Jewelmer, the king of golden south sea pearl, and Sea of Cortez pearls, just to name a few.

Agatized GastropodsDuring the walk, I wandered off from the group for a bit and stumbled into a booth with interesting looking shells. They were called Agatized Gastropods. The seller told us that these fossilized shells were over 100 million years old. I decided to purchase this unique find and as the rest of the group came to the booth they were also mesmerized by them. Jeremy bought a pair and most of the group bought some. Click the photo on the left to see a super-size version of these amazing shells!

John Tu's Pearl BoothFrom GJX we walked over to Riverpark Inn where we met with John Tu from Taiko Imports. John is another beloved vendor that Pearl-Guiders love to purchase from. We spent a good amount of time looking for specific pearls that were on Pearl-Guiders’ shopping lists. After we parted from John’s booth we called it a day since Jeremy and I were attending the CPAA (Cultured Pearl Association of America) party that evening. Besides the humidifier and wet wipes, I bring along lots of pearl jewelry. Every night we have some sort of dinner or party to attend and I need to be decked out in pearls!

On Day 2 I scoped out the AGTA show in the morning. The AGTA show has more of the high-end pieces like finished jewelry in gold and precious stones as well as some pearls and beads. I found an 18K diamond bar clasp that would hold 10 strands of pearls with diamond spacer bars to secure the pearl strands in place. It was expensive, so I decided to think about it for a while. It was a good thing I wrote down the price because I went back to the booth on the last day to make the purchase and the vendor had quoted me a different price. I plan to use the findings for the PearlParadise look book for the Fall/Winter 2013.

Mabe Pearls from Sea of Cortez

Mabe Pearls from Sea of Cortez Pearls

Kether, member Caitlin’s daughter and Pearl Ruckus attendee, came to pick me up from AGTA and we left to see the other shows. Jeremy stayed for meetings with other pearl people. He and I have very different agendas at Tucson. He goes to reconnect with other pearl vendors and experts while I try to go to many shows possible to find something special for my little h line  and The Pearl Collective.

After a quick lunch, Kether and I drove to JOGS show where we didn’t stay for very long. A lot of the things sold there were finished silver or base metal jewelry. There are a lot of low-end tchotchkes that are sold in these shows. You can’t really tell from reading through the list of directories and there isn’t much information online either. We moved to the Holidome where there’s more variety of goods. I found some odd shaped corals that were perfect to frame pearls or stones in. I like pairing gold chain and turquoise beads with corals and it may be a new line for little h. I also found some 6 mm diamond screw clasps for the PearlParadise editorial look book. We’re always on the lookout for different clasps in style and sizes and I was pleased to find some small clasps that would work for the upcoming look book.

Turquoise Beads and Coral

We ran out of time that day and I returned to our hotel afterwards to get ready for the annual Pearl-Guide dinner that we host. The group is growing larger every year and it is a blast to dine with pearl enthusiasts like Caitlin Williams and Elisabeth Strack.

I had the third day all to myself. It was a little daunting to drive the enormous Ford Explorer we rented but I had a great time. I went to the Gem Mall and spent most of the day there. I had really good finds for Pearl Collective. Our spike collection has been a big hit and I was on a hunt for different style of spikes. I found some styles that were different from our past ones. I got myself a strand of turquoise slate shaped beads as well as tear drop shaped freshwater pearls that were framed in gold plated silver. I saw some vintage pearl brooches that were crescent moon shaped.

That evening Jeremy and I attended the GIA Alumni party. We had donated some of our finest freshwater pearls and South Sea pearl earrings for their fund-raising auction.

The final day of the show I purchased some stones at the GJX show. I walked around the show from the back end since I didn’t check out the area during the pearl walk. I found a booth filled with rare colors and assortments of stones. I purchased small Geode Agates. I thought it would be fun to insert pearls in these crystal filled hollow shaped agates.

Before I did more financial damage Jeremy found me and we were off to the airport. I had so much fun at the show this year because it reminded me of the time when I frequently went to local gem shows. It’s truly entertaining to find intriguing stones or beads and let your imagination run.

Golden South Sea pearls from Jewelmer

A beautiful golden South Sea trifecta from Jewelmer