My first (pearl) trip to Hong Kong

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to take off on my first trip to Asia. Pearls aside, this would be a magnificent trip to experience – just being in Hong Kong felt exciting. Coming from the East Coast, (Philadelphia) it brought me back home. The city was vibrant and beautiful, with no lack of movement anywhere you looked. You can easily walk, or hop on the metro and be anywhere you need in just a few moments. Best of all; the food was amazing, and the hospitality even better. If not for all the hills, and (obviously) the signs in Chinese, I could have easily mistaken it for New York City.

Still being fairly fresh to the pearl world, this trip also took me back to my old profession- the food industry. I worked in high-end fine dining back home, and I have to say; Hong Kong, you did not disappoint! The soup dumplings were to die for, and the fresh lobster casserole melted in your mouth. The crab was juicy to the point that it needed no butter or accoutrements, and the duck… I will dream about the Peking duck, possibly for the rest of my life.

Just before getting on the ferry to go from Tsim Sha Tsui to Wanchai

Just before getting on the ferry to go from Tsim Sha Tsui to Wanchai

This trip wasn’t just for fun, of course. Our Hong Kong buy trips happen regularly, and I’m not the only one who is excited to see all the goodies. Jeremy, Hisano, and I got to Hong Kong a day before the show, and went from the airport to a very empty convention center – hoping to check in early. We were unsuccessful, but we got there early the next day to beat the lines. That also didn’t quite happen, since the lines reached literally outside- but after about an hour, I was equipped with a buyer’s badge and we went inside into pearl heaven.

Surrounding us from every side were rows of booths, separated into regions and gemstone type. We obviously spent our time perusing all the pearls, with direct routes to our trusted vendors. There were so many pearls it was almost unbelievable. As soon as we got to our favorite Freshwater booth, we selected our baskets and started digging. Want to know the best way to start off a work trip? Easy answer; playing in a pile of Soufflé pearls!

A pile of metallic freshwater souffle pearls

Soufflé pearls are so incredibly beautiful!

The next few days were spent meticulously sorting through pearls… thousands, and thousands of them. We kept our eyes out for new things in the pearl world- as well as interesting strands, intense colors, and clean surfaces. It was nice to be a part of the process from the beginning, and to really see our strenuous grading system at work in such a large pool of options. Starting with the Freshwater first, we found some huge white Edison pairs with gorgeous luster. On the smaller side of Edisons, we picked through a tray of absolutely gorgeous purple pearls to find just a select few of the best colored pairs.

Richly colored Edison pearls

The colors of these Edison pearls is so intense.

That tray might look daunting to some, but I gravitated towards the pearl industry as an artist. The idea of piecing together wearable art appealed to me, and selecting and differentiating between shape and color is something that I find enjoyable- so this entire process is meditative for me. Pictured above and below is many, many hours of meditation…

Hanks of freshwater pearls on display

I had never seen so many pearls in my life and I work at a pearl company!

My favorite pearls to check out are Tahitians, there is something about the oil slick surface that I find appealing. Tahitians have so much depth when you look at them, starting from within and enhanced with the associating overtones. I was on the hunt for a unicorn- a 14 mm+ round, flawless AAA peacock Tahitian. I found a few contenders, but not quite what we were searching for. This one was definitely jaw-dropper level for me, though. I maintained a certain level of self-control (somehow) and left the beauty for the next lucky person.

A single, large Tahitian pearl with intense color

Tahitian pearl perfection

Examining strands of Tahitian pearls

I spent every day examining and selecting pearls.

Now I feel like there needs to be some honorable mentions;

The natural strand we stopped to admire was definitely worth taking the time to see- priced in the seven figures! It is pretty amazing to me that we can find such beautiful things naturally occurring within our oceans, and even more impressively- we can then arrange them into a matching graduated triple strand.

We also ran across three MASSIVE South Sea pearls, covering almost a full palm with just those three. They were the biggest pearls I have ever, and possibly will ever see. I think we were all pretty taken with these particular beauties.

Giant baroque South Sea pearls

These were some of the largest South Sea pearls I have ever (and will ever likely) see!

Across the board, the trip was a huge success! I had a great time, and look forward to many (hopefully pearl-centric) trips to Hong Kong in my future. Thanks J & H!

My First Pearl-Buying Trip to the Hong Kong Jewelry Show

About 2 years ago, Pearl Paradise took a chance on me. Oh, I knew I loved jewelry but an expert I was not. Fast forward to early last month and to my utter amazement, I can call myself a pearl expert. And poof, Hong Kong here I come!

The Hong Kong Skyline

While getting the chance to attend a trade show in Hong Kong is a learning experience, I also had a job – I was responsible for the wish list! Golden and white South Seas, freshwater keshis, round Tahitians, I’m coming for you.

 

I was lucky enough to get there a couple days earlier than Jeremy and Hisano, which was truly a blessing for this newbie to world travel. Time travel is no joke friends! After that long 15-hour flight, a swift ride on the metro and a zig-zag cab ride on the “wrong” side of the street, the nightlife of Hong Kong engulfed me.

Visiting Hong Kong to source pearlsTalk about a symphony of sensory stimulation! The lights, the smells, the HUMIDITY! It all thrust itself at me with no coaxing. I was literally catapulted into a new world entirely, except somehow, it was familiar too. It must have been the McDonald and the Starbucks, and all the signs in English. Or it could’ve just been my over preparation for a trip to the other side of the world. I was HERE. My new HERE wasn’t going to let me rest either and that was fine with me! I was ready.

I was so ready and time befuddled, I showed up for work a day early! Ha, Jeremy and Hisano hadn’t even arrived yet. It took me some time to realize it, but when I did, I seized the day and went to explore. Some folks like to shop when they travel, others like to see the sites, but this girl likes to eat! My husband decided at the last minute to join me on the trip, so we were off to Dim Sum and it did not disappoint!

After lunch, we took the ferry over to the Gem show site to get a lay of the land and take in the spectacular Hong Kong skyline.

That evening Jeremy and Hisano arrived and they wasted no time. Jeremy invited us to the hotel suite of a colleague who grows pearls in Fiji! I felt like I was initiated into a secret society of the rarest most exceptional pearls in existence. And actually, I sort of was. They were truly extraordinary. The colors! Magentas and golds, emeralds! A word to the wise friends, do not mistake these beauties as Tahitians! Now, I am not taking away from the exquisite allure of a true peacock from French Polynesia. But, Fijian pearls are a breed unto themselves and I got schooled that night. Humbled and in awe, I went to sleep in anticipation and excitement for the pearl filled days to come.

Sorting pearls from Fiji

We poured out bags of Fijian pearls in the suite’s bathroom for examination!

The next three days were a whirlwind! After a speedy trip on the metro (under the sea!) I followed my fearless leaders through a grandiose convention center at the edge of the harbor to a maze of pearl vendors and our trusted suppliers. Here we ogled and sorted through metallic freshwaters, colorful Tahitians and even pistachio akoyas. I managed to find most of my wish list items and loved watching Hisano sort with a deft hand and a trained eye. She even left me to match pairs and sort metallics, truly a feat in itself. Proud newbie over here, friends.

The first day of our pearl buying trip

Arriving at the Jewelry Fair – so exciting!

I was even spontaneously interviewed by a Japanese television station. That was an exciting surprise. It’s a good thing my lipstick hadn’t worn off and my hair hadn’t completely frizzed. I’m now semi-famous somewhere in Japan J!

During our exploration, we came upon the most spectacular piece of jewelry yet. So rare, I barely got my photo snapped before the purveyor was chasing me away calling “No photos!”  I jetted out of there so quick, I didn’t even get to find out the worth of this stunning ring, made of around 30 wild conch pearls of the truest pink I’d ever encountered. Even Jeremy and Hisano were floored at its beauty. It was incomparable. Later, I had the fortuitous opportunity to accompany Hisano in the search for precious gemstones for her little h designs. I followed her with a mouth agape. I had to remind myself to close! The vast array of color and selection was astounding.

A stunning ring featuring 20 natural conch pearls

In the evening, my husband would fill me in on his adventures in food and culture throughout Kowloon and Hong Kong Central, and we’d reconvene with Jeremy and Hisano who were the most gracious of hosts – welcoming us to some of the most amazing and exotic feasts we’ve ever experienced, from choosing our own live seafood to Jeremy’s most favorite, Peking Duck. We enjoyed the company of colleagues who were Hong Kong locals and colleagues from afar, soaking in the magic of a trip of a lifetime.

Just about two years ago, Pearl Paradise took a chance on me. I’m so grateful they did! The travel bug has bitten friends. Anytime I’m invited for a trip abroad, especially to find pearls. I’ll be ready!

Amazing natural color pearls

Natural metallic luster on freshwater pearls

Chenai’s first trip to the Hong Kong Jewelry Show

When the opportunity to go to Hong Kong presented itself, I took the chance and did not look back!  Within the next 24 hours, my air ticket and hotel were booked and I had arranged child care. It was decided, before the trip, that I would look for the wish list items.

I slept for most of my 15-hour flight so I arrived in Hong Kong well rested and ready for the task at hand. Since my flight arrived early morning the first day of the show, Jeremy and Hisano met me at the airport and we were off to the show! After spending almost an hour in a Disneyland-like line, I got my badge and was official! We entered the Pearls hall and was quite overwhelmed at the size of the room. So many pearls! So much to see! Thankfully, Jeremy and Hisano have been doing this for a long time so I did not feel so overwhelmed.

Pearls Hall - HK Blog With a long to-do list, we wanted to make sure we didn’t waste any time. We spent the first day buying Akoya pearls and a Tahitian loose pearl lot. It was such a thrill to watch Jeremy and Hisano negotiate with the suppliers. We had to walk away from one vendor because of their high prices, went to the booth across from them and purchased most of our Akoya pearl strands!  I also picked out a golden South Sea strand from the wish list. We left the show feeling quite accomplished! Headed to the hotel, checked in and got ready for dinner.

Day 2 and half of Day 3 was spent doing quality control on Freshwater strands. The rest of Day 3 and all of day 4 (last day) was spent filling the gaps and gathering the wish list items (my main objective). My list included pistachio Akoya pearls, white metallic Freshadama strands, a multicolor Edison strand and graduated freshwater necklace in pink (Batman style). The first thing I learned while going through wish list is how difficult it is to find the pearls on my list. Quickly realizing why it is a “wish” list. Sometimes, it seemed as though I was looking for a unicorn!  So many vendors, so many pearls to look through, in search of that needle in a haystack. If I was lucky enough to find what I was looking, the price had to be just right!

Pistachio Akoya

True pistachio akoya are so rare!

Pink Batman necklace

One wish list item was a pink “Batman” graduated strand – I needed to match large center pearls

I learned so much about the buying process. Seeing how difficult it can be to get pearls in the quality that we have come to be known for at a price that makes our customers happy. I had a great time in Hong Kong. I explored the night market with Mike and Sherri and shared a lot of giggles with Blaire (all Pearl-Guide.com and Ruckus friends) and ate some Amazing food!

Dinner

Hisano and Jeremy love Din Tai Fung

Some of our amazing finds will be in some upcoming sales including the Black Friday sale!

White Metallic pearls

You can see the REAL metallics mixed in – metallic is metallic (as Jeremy says)

Vietnamese Akoya strands and loose pearls

Our friends that farm akoya in Vietnam had a special hidden stash just for Hisano

Colorful Tahitian drop lot

This lot was yummy! It has so many rare colors!

A Short Conversation with Hisano

After the success of our very own Chief Creative Officer’s showing at the Las Vegas JCK Jewelry show, we decided to create a short video in which she shares her inspiration and process behind her International Award Winning Pearl Geode and Finestrino Collection.

We hope you enjoy!

Pearl Paradise photographer Angela goes to Hong Kong

Working with PearlParadise has always been a privilege, but a couple weeks ago, I was offered a life changing opportunity! Jeremy and Hisano asked me if I wanted to join them on the Hong Kong Jewelry & Gem Fair buying trip!

After 16 hours of travel time, I arrived at the airport and went straight to the show! Here are some clips and images from my experience in Hong Kong.

I took a lot of footage, so make sure to check back later for informational videos from our trip!

The entrance to the September Hong Kong Jewellry & Gem Fair - You can see the excitement in my eyes!

The entrance to the September Hong Kong Jewellry & Gem Fair – You can see the excitement in my eyes!

Pearl Heaven

Pearl Heaven

Hollow pearls we call Souffle. The color range and luster on these pearls have changed the game when it comes to buying pearls by weight.

Hollow pearls we call Souffle. The color range and luster on these pearls have changed the game when it comes to buying pearls by weight.

Loose grade pearls with amazing luster ready to be matched into mini lots for freshadama strands!

Loose grade pearls with amazing luster ready to be matched into mini lots for freshadama strands!

Beautiful luster!

Beautiful luster!

Round, beaded pearls known to the trade as Edisons.

Round, beaded pearls known to the trade as Edisons.

Dim Sum dinner with Hisano and Jeremy!

Dim Sum dinner with Hisano and Jeremy!

A little ‘peak’ from my adventure on my day off in Hong Kong.

Breathless — at 志蓮淨苑 Chi Lin Nunnery.

Breathless — at 志蓮淨苑 Chi Lin Nunnery.

Good bye for now, Hong Kong — at The Peak, Hong Kong.

Good bye for now, Hong Kong — at The Peak, Hong Kong