Provoked Baroques: A New Tahitian Pearl on the Horizon

I love Tahitian pearls. More specifically, I love the dark exotic colors of Tahitian pearls – the colors found almost exclusively in smaller size ranges. Large Tahitian pearls are highly valued, but often lack the color and luster of their smaller counterparts because larger pearls most often come from larger, older pearl oysters. As the oyster ages, it begins to lose the ability to produce fine pearl nacre. But what if there were a way to induce small, young pearl oysters into growing larger pearls?
Provoked baroque Tahitian pearlsA company out of Japan by the name of Imai Seikaku has developed a new sort of nucleus that comes in the shape of a small blue pill. This is no ordinary nucleus, but one that is composed of a super-absorbent organic substance which soaks up surrounding liquids and expands. As it expands it begins to “blow out the pearl sac,” as my friend and pearl farmer Josh Humbert of Kamoka Pearls put it. It essentially induces even a small, young pearl oyster to grow a large pearl sac where an equally large nucleus can be placed.
Provoked baroque Tahitian pearl When harvested, the first graft pearl is free-form in shape and filled with liquid substance, which when drained, leaves a hollow Tahitian pearl. Unlike freshwater soufflé pearls from China, hollow pearls can’t be legally exported from Tahiti so they’re discarded. In their place farmers insert large, baroque nuclei. This second graft results in giant bead-nucleated Provoked Baroques that intentionally look indistinguishable from massive keshi pearls except in one way – they have screaming luster and intensely dark colors. They are even better than traditional keshi and much larger than average keshi.

Common keshi compared to this new breed of Tahitian pearl

Common keshi compared to this new breed of Tahitian pearl

The technology is still in its infancy and production to date has been very limited. Most pearl wholesalers have yet to hear about this new type of gem let alone offer them. Josh Humbert is one of the few pearl farmers that has been experimenting with the organic, shape-shifting nuclei and believes that there is potential to use the technology to eventually grow large, colorful round pearls. In the meantime, we get to enjoy a new type of pearl!

A full strand of giant, provoked baroques

A full strand of giant, provoked baroques

What to do with 5,600 peacock drop Tahitian pearls!

If you follow our Facebook page you would have seen the post below where Hisano and I were having fun sorting a peacock drop lot of just over 5,600 pearls. We decided to make strands with them, and they are ready as of today! Pictures are below the Facebook post!

We are planning a big Tahitian pearl promotion in August, so we’ll probably hold off posting them onto the site until then!

Approximately 150 strands of Tahitian pearls
Tahitian pearl close ups
Peacock Drops
More peacock drops

Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair, June 2014

The Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair, June 2014

Although it just seems like yesterday, we are headed back to Asia once again for one of the large, Jewelry and Gem shows in Hong Kong, taking place from June 19th through the 22nd.

In March, we brought team member Lynsey with us to experience what a pearl-sourcing trip is really like. This time we’re going to bring a team member who has been with us for nearly a decade now – Elia! This is Elia’s first trip ever to Asia, and we’re excited to have her along. She is going to be working on product sourcing for our July promotion and the September Connoisseur promotion.

We have one busy week ahead of us, but as always, if there is something special or something particular you would like us to look for, please drop us an email. We will do our best!

Jeremy & Hisano

Something Special: Vietnamese akoya pearls

Vietnamese akoya pearls

Back in September I purchased a very special lot of loose, Vietnamese akoya pearls while at the Hong Kong show. They were large (for akoya), individual pearls with insane color and super-thick nacre. Since I wrote the blog post about these rare beauties we’ve had many inquiries for pendants, earrings and strands. We just didn’t have enough to make them available on the website.

At the show in March, however, Jeremy and I were able to get all of the remaining strands from the same pearl farmer who owns and runs the pearl farm in Vietnam, so we finally have a small selection that will be made available on the site as the June Monthly Special this week (the email will go out tomorrow – June 3rd).

Vietnamese akoya pearl pendantThese pearls not only have natural, exquisite blue body color but also very thick nacre. The farmer told us these pearls were under water longer than the typical Akoyas. The farmer also experimented by storing theses strands in a safe for five years to test the longevity of the color. He found out that the color remained the same. He decided to release this batch in March – between us and our friends from another company, we purchased everything he had. He told us that it will be another two years before he would harvest the new batch of baroque Akoyas.

With the loose pearls I decided to make simple but elegant earrings and pendants that focused on showcasing the natural beauty of pearls. I chose few of John’s molds. For the light blue Akoyas with warm body color I paired it with yellow gold and chose white gold for the cooler tones. A single bezel set diamond is just enough to accentuate the baroque pearl. The triple diamond earrings has an elegant but quiet presence. There will only be a few pieces available, but each is very special and unique.

I hope you love these rare pearls as much as we do!

Vietnamese baroque akoya pearls

A few strands that will be available during this month’s promotion

Pearl Friends continued: Wendy

“My husband traveled quite a bit for work and I had to mow our three-acre yard with 300 pine trees on a riding mower. Every week as I traveled in hundreds of circles around the yard, all I could think about was how wonderful these pearls were…”- Wendy

We are thrilled to continue our interview with Wendy Fairchild for this week’s blog post. Enjoy!

Wendy and her husband Bill at Jeremy and Hisano's wedding ceremony

Wendy and her husband Bill at Jeremy and Hisano’s wedding ceremony

Everybody loved the jewelry that you wore to Jeremy and Hisano’s wedding,  can you tell us a little bit about it?

 I was at the Malibu Ruckus two years ago.  I was interested in finding a White South Sea strand to go with a pair of stud earrings that I had in my collection.  When you go to “The Vault,” you have a choice of loose pearls or drilled strands.  The prices vary depending on the size, shape, and quality that you select.  Like many, I have a round, perfect taste but a baroque pocket book.  Jeremy selected many trays of White South Sea baroques for me to choose from.  Then he said he had just gotten in a shipment from Dr. Joseph Taylor’s  Atlas Pearl farm.  He hurried back into the vault and bought out more trays of pearls.  If you haven’t been to the vault, this is what shopping looks like…. 

White South Sea baroque beauties from the Atlas Pearl Farm

White South Sea baroque beauties from the Atlas Pearl Farm

Wendy picked the second strand from the bottom...

Wendy picked the second strand from the bottom…

I just love this necklace, it just glows on the neckline and feels so good on.  

The finished necklace.  Good choice Wendy!

The finished necklace. Good choice Wendy!

So what is next? Are you on the lookout for the next special addition to your collection?

 Actually, Cynde and Jeremy selected some pearls for me from his last shopping trip to Hong Kong. Hisano is making me a custom metallic souffle, pistachio Akoya, and fireball pendant.  Because of the finished length, I’ve requested a hidden enhancer bale be made for the back of the souffle. After looking at the two pearls, I asked for an additional green akoya pearl and bezel set diamond spacers with eye pins that will be installed between the pearls to make it movable. I can’t wait until it’s completed and floating on my omega necklace or clipped into a strand of pearls.

Pendant in progress

Pendant in progress

What do you love most about your pearl jewelry?

How versatile it is. They can be worn with t-shirts to business suits and everything in between. I have found that Tahitian pearls are easier to wear daily as they seem less formal. They come in so many colors that contrast and complement my skin tone. No matter what the season, they always seem appropriate. I reach for this 11-15 mm multi-colored strand the most often for everyday wear.

EverydayStand

What advice would you give to someone that was new to the world of pearls?

 Lots:

(… and she wasn’t kidding!)

* Find a online pearl forum and learn as much as you can before you jump into your first purchase. You will save yourself money and you’ll be directed to the best, most reliable sources for purchasing quality pearls at the best price points.

 * Pearls are safe. You can wear them on vacation or anywhere without fear. Many ladies have a collection of fake travel jewelry but you don’t need that with pearls, as most have no idea what they are worth.  Additionally, most have a preconceived idea of pearls only being small round and white. When you wear pearls that don’t look like grandma’s small graduated akoyas, they don’t know what you’re wearing. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been told “Nice Beads” by strangers, and that’s OK.

 * Don’t be afraid to step outside of the box or your comfort zone. I was afraid to buy white or baroque pearls. I liked the look on others, but was afraid I would not wear them if I bought them. Cynde actually sent me one of her large white baroque south sea pearl strands to borrow for 6 months and I wore it a lot. Not only did I fall for the color and saw they were not only for special occasions, I loved the free form shapes too. I purchased my white south sea strand shown above because of this experiment.

 * Many ladies start out buying smaller pearls but slowly go up in MM size. Warning, once you wear large pearls, it’s hard to go back wearing smaller pearls again. Re-gifting unworn pearls is nice and others will love you for it.

 * Since there is no universal grading system every seller uses, you have to trust that your seller is selling the exact grade they claim on their site. Stock photos are great, but will you get pearls like them when you open the box? Check your seller out on the internet and in the forums. Also, using the Better Business Bureau is a helpful tool.   If you did an experiment and bought 1 of the exact same grade item from three different vendors, you will find not everyone’s AAA pearls are the same, and price doesn’t mean quality.

 *Look outside you local jeweler for your pearls. Unless they are the exception, they will be carrying commercial grade pearls. Since the average store does less then 10% of their sales in pearls, they are not usually something they focus on when buying their stock.

 * Buy the best pearls you can afford.  Mediocre pearls will never make you happy. Many buy lower quality pearls to start their collection and then don’t wear them.  It’s amazing how many women say they didn’t think they liked pearls until they started purchasing pearls of higher quality merchandise.

 * Pearls are versatile and recyclable. If you tire of the style or length, it easy to change their look. Buy more of the same, another color, perhaps some faceted gem or metal beads and have them restyled into another look or perhaps a less formal style. A necklace can become two bracelets, a few stands can become a rope. A little imagination and you’ll be reaching for them again.

 *Join forums and join the fun. Many of the people on the online forums have found lifelong friends they would never have found in their daily life. Some meet up in hotels, resorts and even mansions. It’s educational and exciting to see collections of pearls you’ve read about but have not had to opportunity to see anywhere else. You can meet the pearl farmers who are growing the pearls you wear, vendors and fellow pearl enthusiasts.  Most people are very helpful and you may find yourself learning how to restring your pearls, who would have guessed?  

What would your dream pearls be, If you could have any kind of pearl in any size or shape?

Wow, you saved the hardest question for last. With the new technology and many pearl farms pushing the envelope with innovation, we have no idea what will be for sale in the future or even in the next six months. Many pearls that were by-products of something that they were trying to achieve may be available for a very short time, but are either dropped or disappear when success is achieved.

 I am grateful for the items I have collected that were brought in via small, hand-selected lots. The eight-way rollers, Inception pearls – pearl in a pearl, and color-shifting freshwater pearls for instance. When these things appear you have a small window of opportunity to grab them or miss out: many are not repeated. Some were just produced by one lone farm trying to invent something new for the market.

Inceptions pearls - pearls nucleated with pearls

Wendy’s tin cup made with “Inception Pearls”

I am very intrigued with the new “Provoked Tahitians,” I love the look of the multi-colored Edison strands, and anything coming out of Douglas McLaurin’s Sea of Cortez pearl farm.

So, if I have to pick, Sea of Cortez wins my vote.  Perhaps one special pearl, like this one of a kind pearl that he grew a few years ago and was named “The Matryoshka.”

matroyshka sea of cortez pearl

One of the finest pearls ever to come from the Sea of Cortez