Pearl Paradise Lookbook Fall/Winter 2013

Twice a year I go into hiding (primarily in my office) for about three and a half weeks. I take very minimal custom orders, take very short breaks to eat and go home very late. Excluding the November to December holiday season, it’s the busiest time for me and the creative team. We create Lookbooks; catalogs filled with new jewelry designs for the upcoming season. These lookbooks are aimed for semi0-annual events that our PR team holds in New York. We call it the “Editorial Event” and the team holds numerous appointments with stylists, bloggers and editors from magazines like Martha Stewart Weddings, O, Elle, and so on. Through these appointments our jewelry gets pulled for photo shoots and styling celebrities. We’ve been lucky to have our pearls on Angelina Jolie, First Lady Michelle Obama, Taylor Swift and Olivia Wilde to name a few.

When I go to Hong Kong for our buying trip, or to the Tucson Gem Shows, I am always on the lookout for unique finds that can be featured. We create 4-6 collections for Pearl Paradise for each lookbook. Fall/Winter 2013 we created 5 collections: Grand, Petite, Carved, Gray and Essential Collections.

On one of our Hong Kong trips we bought a loose lot of very large Tahitian baroque pearls and were able to create large strands that were up to 16 mm in size. We paired the pearls with findings that were black rhodium plated to give a dark edgier look – the Grand Collection.


Following the Grand Collection (and for my affinity for tiny pearls) I created the Petite Collection.
This collection was particularly a “win” for us. The Empress necklace was featured in Martha Stewart Wedding magazine recently. This piece was a challenge in all levels. It took me hours to knot and nest the strands and we had to re-shoot many times to lay the piece for photo. Angela spent a lot of time retouching the photo as well but worth all the hard work!

We introduced the Galatea carved pearls in our Carved Collection. We had never bought Galatea pearls before and we wanted to see what the reaction would be. Our PR team loved it, and they are currently working on some press coverage. I personally love the necklace with different carved designs on each pearl with a hidden magnetic clasp.


The Gray Collection is something very different from a standard Pearl Paradise items. We like to have pearls that are in natural colors (except for black Freshwater, black Akoyas and chocolate Tahitians) but when I saw these dyed gray fireballs I wanted to give it a try. I designed it with white gold and diamond link components to mix the organic curvy shape of pearls with geometric lines.


We are constantly getting “pull requests” for classic pearl styles. Through the years of creating these lookbooks, we’ve become sort of the go-to company for pearls. The Essential Collection shows our most popular classic styles and some with a little twist of imagination.

Our best seller Freshadama necklace in 7.5-8 mm


All of these styles are designed, made, photographed and cataloged in a short amount of time along with 10-15 collections that we make for our sister site Pearl Collective. We now have a team of five that work around the clock (while also working on the day-to-day Pearl Paradise operations!) to make this happen. It’s an exhausting project but always an exhilarating one!

Amazing Pearl Finds at Hong Kong Sept Show

Jeremy examining strands of freshwater pearls

Our main goal for the show was to buy our main stock items for the holidays. It took hours and hours every day selecting large quantities of Akoya and Freshwater strands but we were still able to take a break and find some exceptional pearls.

Crazy metallic Edison pearls

Giant Edison freshwater pearls with insane colors
I am particularly happy with our new Edison pearls. Last season we purchased some beautiful buttons but this time I was able to select large Edison drops. These drops have very smooth clean surface with very little blemishes. I selected over 20 pairs and a handful of loose. The colors are mostly lavender with copperish overtones, few metallic-like luster with green overtones and beautiful pale pink. These warm tone 14-15 mm drops are perfect for Fall/Winter outfits!
We were also able to get some nice near perfect round white and lavender Edison pairs in 14-15 mm. These earrings will be such a perfect statement pieces.

Hisano matching giant white Edison freshwater pearls

Matching white Edison round pairs

Another amazing find was baroque loose Vietnamese Akoya pearls. The colors and luster on these pearls are breathtaking.

Vietnamese akoya pearls unlike any we've ever seen

Baroque, natural color akoya pearls from Vietnam

This is the farmer who created the unique pistachio strand Jeremy blogged about in July. His two daughters exhibit at the HK show every year and I became good friends with them. It is very rare for them to get something this large (8-10 mm) and with this luster. These pearls took 3 years into making and the farmer stopped producing them because of the low survival rate of the mollusks. Some of these pearls were the daughters’ favorites and they were very gracious to offer them to us. They also had a small loose lot of silvery blue baroques and I made few pairs. Now I need to come up with something exceptional to showcase these beauties.

Felt and Pearls at the Wedding

Besides wearing pearls for our wedding, it was important to me to have a handmade felted jewelry as well as a felted décor.  Felting in wool is a huge passion of mine. I started felting during grad school and it became my form of expression. I have recently started to incorporate pearls with felting and wanted to showcase it on the table runner.

This was another challenging project but I was thrilled to see the finished pieces. My maid of honor Michelle and I decided to make a table runner for the head table. We went to the Fashion district in down town LA and found beige to brown fabrics to create the ombré layers. Michelle cut and pieced together the layers and I was in charge of the decorations at the two ends of the table. The total length of the runner came out to be over 35 ft! I used Merino wool cut into petal-like shapes and felted it onto the lace fabric. I then sewed pearls in the center and pieced them together with lace, fabric, doilies, etc. It captured the warm, rustic look I was aiming for.

Photo taken before the set up

I also wanted to wear a felted jewelry for the wedding and I put together a bracelet the day before we left for Santa Barbara. I sewed small Akoya pearls (leftovers from my Tokyo wedding jewelry) on the center of the beige roses and felted onto white Merino wool. I used 10.5 mm Freshwater button to use it as a clasp.

Felted bracelet with Akoya and Freshwater pearls


Michelle has also made pearl hair fascinators to all the bridal party including our mothers. She used 7-9 mm Freshwater buttons.


Our great friend Sarah and her husband Mounir from Kojima Pearls gave us these wonderful pearl gifts. The cuff links are set in resin embedded with baby mollusks and natural pearls. We’ve never seen anything like it! It was made by Fuji Voll in the 1960’s.


The earrings are handmade by Sarah’s best friend. The natural Abalone pair is set on high carat gold and it is such a simple and beautiful piece of jewelry. I’m planning to get a lot of wear out of them on our honeymoon to Italy!

Our Bridal Pearl Jewelry

Jeremy and I finally had our American wedding last weekend, August 3rd, at Dos Pueblos Ranch in Santa Barbara, California!

I picked out my wedding dress in February right before we left for the Tucson shows. The dress has a silk chiffon ombre of beige layers and I wanted to have that ombre effect in the bridal jewelry as well as the decor. During the Tucson show, Pearl-Guide’s Caitlin William’s daughter Kether and I started looking for champagne colored briolette diamonds. Not knowing what the design was going to be, I’ve selected some dark brown diamonds and champagne colors. For months I pondered what to make and nothing came to mind. A good friend of mine told me I should think about it on the long flight to Hong Kong in June but I had no luck. A week before the wedding I finally got it. I chose to wear the natural colored exotic metallic pearls. Jeremy gave me the special metallic freshwater pearl as a promise ring a few years ago, and since then finding the metallic freshwater pearls have been a project of ours. I chose the warmer pink metallic drops that would complement the warm hue of the diamonds.


Putting together the briolettes was a challenge! Only a 30 gauge wire will go through the hole of the diamonds and I handmade the jumprings to be laser welded onto the chain. The earrings were sent to four different custom jewelers who specialized in laser welding and none of them were able to successfully weld or solder the jumprings. So three nights before we left for Santa Barbara, I took the diamonds out and wire wrapped them individually onto the chain.


Once the earring design was finished, creating complementing sets for the bridesmaids was easy! I wanted to keep everything simple and chose a bale from findings producer that had brown and champagne diamonds set to create an ombré effect like the drop earrings. I paired the pendant with drop metallic earrings on our classic setting.

For the groom and the two best men, I chose 10 mm Tahitan baroque pearls and made them into lapels to be attached next to the boutonnieres. I wanted to be very subtle but have a nice dark peacock color.

During our rehearsal dinner Jeremy surprised me with the most exquisite wedding gift, a natural conch pearl pendant.

Jelly bean shaped, pink conch pearls have been my favorite pearls since I’ve been working at PP. I even have a picture of a cluster of conch pearls on my business card. My wish came true when my husband found me this amazing pearl. The chatoyance is so clearly visible on the bottom portion of this pearl. Jeremy has explained to me that this pearl came pre-drilled when he purchased it. Takayas and Jeremy designed around it so that the pendant will look presentable front and back. The bale was derived from the love knot incorporated into our wedding bands. I will cherish this pendant (and my husband) forever.

Post-Show Pearl Projects

My entire office has been overrun with pearls since we came back from Hong Kong. Boxes filled with pearls started to arrive as soon as we came back.  It’s quite a puzzle to piece together the handwritten invoices and many strands of pearls trying to remember which pearls we got for what purpose before they all go back to our inventory.

We were able to find a lot of fun things like interesting-shaped soufflé pearls that we added to our monthly sale page, as well as the drop shaped colorful freshwater metallic strands. We also found some unique pieces like the pistachio akoya strand Jeremy blogged about a few days ago.

My first project was to pair up all the white metallic drops. We were excited to get some intense 8-10 mm drops this time.


Jeremy and I were able to get a handful of natural-colored, drop-shaped metallics too.  Do you see those giant round-looking pairs mixed in with the drops? Those are the famous ‘Edison Pearls.’ The colors are absolutely amazing!


During the show I started to collect 2 special items. One was the deep lavender freshwater drops.

These were mixed in a pile when we were sorting for the metallics. It’s very difficult to get deep rich lavender hues so I started to keep them aside whenever I saw them. I brought back a small lot of 10-11 mm and 11-12 mm and was able to make one card of pairs.
Another item that I started collecting was perfectly shaped teardrop pearls.

I have no clue what I will be doing with these but I am sure I will be collecting more at the next show.

Now that the pairs are done I am on to the next pearly projects!