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, HisanoTakei.com 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, Pearl-Guide.com 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

The Matryoshka Cortez Pearl Necklace

About five years ago, Pearl Paradise began hosting the Pearl-Guide.com Ruckus, an annual weekend event every summer when pearl farmers, vendors and enthusiasts come together from all over the world to celebrate all things pearl. The first two parties were held in the PP office.  The staff turned the entire office into a party room bringing in furniture, décor, caterers and servers to welcome the pearl guests.  The second Ruckus was Japan themed and we brought in a Sushi chef, served sake and traditional sweets. I even taught myself how to wear a kimono for the evening.

Pearl Paradise team before the party

The night of the second annual party, Jeremy bought an extraordinary pearl.  The pearl was purchased from Douglas McLaurin of the Sea of Cortez pearl farm.  The Sea of Cortez pearl farm is located in Guaymas, Mexico, on the eastern side of Baja, California. The Cortez pearl farm is the only pearl farm in Central America. This small farm produces only 4,000 loose pearls per year. The pearls are cultivated in Rainbow lipped mollusk (Pteria sterna), which produces an array of pearl colors including: silver, golden-bronze, olive-green and deep violet with exotic overtones of green, pink and blue. The operation of the farm is small in scale but the pearls that are produced are very high in quality.

During the party people were crowding in the photo studio. Everyone was oohing and aahing over a single pearl that Douglas was holding.  This pearl had the richest violet-pink body color with green overtone with beautifully symmetrical shape. Douglas had named the pearl “Matryoshka” because the shape of the pearl reminded him of the Russian dolls.

Douglas McLaurin and The Matryoshka Pearl from Sea of Cortez

When Jeremy saw the pearl he purchased it that night.

Jeremy gave this special pearl to me and it took me two years to come up with a design. I knew that I wanted to keep the theme around Matryoshka. Within the two years I launched my silhouette collection and one day realized that incorporating the idea of silhouettes and the Matryoshka pearl were the perfect way to design. I sketched out my design, met up with my good friend and PearlParadise’s custom jeweler, Takayas Mizuno to realize my sketch into CAD design. I sourced out the colored stones that mimicked the rich body colors and overtones of the pearl at Hong Kong show. After months of refining the design the Matryoshka was completed. Taking the silhouette of the pearl as an outline of the links for the chain, the links becomes smaller and smaller just like the Russian dolls. The pearl is framed with colorful sapphire stones with each stone reflecting the colors of the pearl. The links are made of 22 karat yellow gold and the clasp was custom made by Takayas in 18 karat gold. The length is 15.5 inches. We were able to have the necklace done in time to show Enrique and Douglas from Sea of Cortez and the Pearl Guiders at the Tucson gem show. Douglas, the “Father of Pearl” was unable to see the finished piece in person but was very pleased with the outcome. This was by far the most sophisticated pearl design challenge I’ve ever attempted.

Resort Pearls

For the past few months, I’ve been eyeing everything orange; orange purses, orange clothes, orange accessories, etc. According to Feng Shui, the color orange represents departure, leadership, femininity and fertility, which was the perfect color-theme for the Hawaii trip we had planned with my parents right after the holiday season was over.

We took the Norewegian Cruise Line that departed from Oahu and stopped at Maui, Big Island and Kauai.  Since you get to dress up a lot on cruise ships I took a handful of my favorite pearls that would complement orange! My latest addition was of course my orange 18-19 mm Fireball earrings set on 14K yellow gold hooks.  Jeremy and I purchased a nice selection of Fireball pairs at the Hong Kong Jewelry show last September.  Jeremy stumbled on the same company where he bought the first giant black Edison Pearla at the show in the Spring. The manager of the booth noticed Jeremy talking to one of his biggest clients and decided to give us the highest-level discount from marked on everything we purchased.  Naturally I took advantage of it and started opening all the boxes that contained Fireballs. I started hand picking (normally you would need to buy the whole card even if there are pearls with flaws or poor matching) and this pair was one of the cherry picked ones we brought back.

Jeremy has a way of charming the pearl producers in China. They get a real kick out of this big white guy that negotiates in Mandarin.  The pair I picked for myself  has very warm orange-gold body color with excellent silver overtone. It’s not as metallic as the other pairs that we purchased but the earrings worked great with my orange beach bag with white sundress.  Most of the time I paired the earrings with my red coral branch pendant with turquoise flat faceted teardrop beads on 18K yellow gold chain that I made years ago.  I loved wearing them during the trip and saw my mom eyeing them the whole entire trip. I think I need to make a pair for her birthday or Mother’s day. Now I can’t wait for the summer.