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!

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!