Over the years we’ve received a steady stream of requests for something that is almost impossible to find in the United States: A large (10 mm or seven carat), round, white, all-nacre pearl that is undrilled and completely untreated.
“Moti” is the Hindi word for Pearl, and “Ratna” means Jewel or Gem. It is an ancient Hindu belief that wearing a pearl can have many beneficial effects, such as alleviating stress and anxiety, and boosting self-confidence. It is also believed to aid those suffering from insomnia, eye diseases, high blood pressure and heart disease.
There are specific guidelines for the type of pearl that should be worn, and how it should be worn. The ideal pearl is said to be white, round and untreated. The pearl should NOT be drilled, and should be worn in a way that it touches the skin. Round saltwater pearls have a bead, so the only types of pearls that could potentially be 100% nacre are natural pearls, keshi pearls and freshwater pearls.
The cost of a single natural pearl that is approximately seven carats and round would be astronomical. This triple strand of natural pearls with just a few in the 10 mm range sold for $1.6 million just a few years ago. Keshi pearls are rarely as large as seven carats and nearly always baroque. That leaves freshwater pearls. The issue is that all white freshwater pearls have been processed before reaching market. While the level of processing varies by quality, quite literally all have been processed.
Freshwater pearl farms do not sell pearls to wholesalers. They sell them to processing factories throughout China. The local term for pearls being sold to a processing factory is “raw material.” This raw material is sorted and then put through a series of processes called “maeshori” and bleaching. The reason processing is universal is because it increases the value.
Before our buying team went to the Hong Kong show in June, our CEO reached out to the same farmer who invented the process of growing souffle pearls to ask for a favor. We do a lot of business with his company and he owns his own processing factory. He agreed to sort out a small lot of round, white pearls from raw materials and bring them back to Hong Kong. Over the past month, I’ve been working on a new design–the Moti Ratna pearl pendant made from .999 pure silver.