A few of our pearl sourcing trips to Hong Kong

Special pearls from the September Hong Kong Show

I am a bit late posting about the September pearl buy but I didn’t forget! September is the biggest show of the year for us because we select inventory for the Christmas season and that means a lot (and I mean a lot) of inventory. Hisano and I don’t have much time to look for the “fun” stuff in September!

But that isn’t to say we didn’t have fun! We had so many friends that were at the show, and three people came just to join us; Chenai our director of operations, and Blaire and Sheri from Pearl-Guide forum! Blaire is the managing editor of Pearl-Guide News and Sheri is a long-time member who has made it to all the Ruckuses.

Sheri offered to help Hisano, Chenai and I sort and so I gave her just one job – sort out two lots of special metallic half-drill white pearls and select out just the pearls that screamed at her. We called them Sheri’s Screamers.

Sheri sorting the metallics

This is a shot of a few of the screamers as she was pulling them out. Metallic is metallic – shiny is not metallic. These pearls are metallic. And they scream!

the screamers

Sheri sorted out 185 grams, ranging from 6-9 mm pearls. To save you from doing the math, that comes out to six strands with a few extra grams to spare. Part of the reason I’m a bit late with this post is because I wanted to wait until we had the half-drill pearls fully-drilled and matched into strands.

Six strands of Sheri's Screaming metallic pearls

Six strands of Sheri’s Screaming metallic pearls

While those screamers are something else, the main standout to me were loose, beaded white rounds in big sizes. Freshwater pearls have never looked like this before. I ended up matching two strands in sizes 9.3-12.3 and 10.5-15 mm. BIG!

Large round whites


We also met with our friends who farm akoya pearls in Vietnam, and they are now so close to having those special baroque blue strands in our hands! We really had hoped they would be here before November 1st, but it looks like they might not arrive for another week at least.

Until next time!

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!


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!

Intense Blue Vietnamese Akoya

We had another great time in Hong Kong, although it was a shorter trip than usual. Somebody accidentally booked flights arriving Hong Kong a day late. We still found most of the pearls we were looking for so I forgave him;)

While at the show, we always try to visit our friends who farm akoya pearls in Vietnam. They are a small, family-run operation that does such special things with akoya pearls, like the beauties I blogged about nearly two years ago and of course this crazy pistachio strand.

This time their show was about small loose lots of special pearls! Most were quite small, but some were little monsters!

Baroque Vietnamese akoya with intense colors

While the large pearls are amazing, what really captivated my attention were the smaller pearls with colors so dark, they went from blue to almost a purple. I have always loved little pearls!

I started separating out the darkest ones.

Hisano examining baroque akoya

Although the pearls are small (mostly in the 5-6 mm range), they are farmed in Vietnam so the nacre deposition is highly accelerated due to the warmer water so the nacre is extremely thick.

They only sell pearls like these loose, which is very typical with really special pearls. But making a strand of these beauties would be amazing … our friends offered to do it for us! They promised to collect the pearls for us over the next two months and make a few strands. They are going to be so special!

Hisano examining loose baroque akoya


HK Show – Burmese South Sea, Tahitians & Vietnamese Akoya Pearls

We had a good time at the June Hong Kong jewelry show last month and brought back some special goodies!

Before getting into the pearls, I think it makes sense to share a short bit of Burmese (Myanmar) Pearl history.

Burma has a long history with pearls, both natural and cultured. For centuries, the native sea-faring population of the Mergui Archipelago known as Salons, were the traditional pearl divers. Pearls from the “Mergui shell” (a.k.a. Pinctada maxima) were some of the finest the world had ever seen. It’s no wonder Burma was one of the first places where South Sea pearl farming was first introduced.

 burmese necklaceIn 1954, and Japanese pearl company headed by a Mr. Kikiro Takashima set up the first pearl farm on Sir Malcolm Island as a joint venture with Burmese government agency. The pearls produced are still today considered the finest South Seas ever – as seen with this Burmese triple strand.

Unfortunately, the farm was nationalized in 1963 and the Japanese pearl farmers given the boot. Burma maintained the operations for a time, but eventually the pearl quality became so bad, the industry eventually came to a near complete stop.

Well there is some good news for South Sea pearl lovers. Burmese pearls are coming back! Production is still limited and overall sizes are still quite small, but OH the luster! South Sea pearls are known for their soft, satiny luster, not sharp, metallic luster like fine akoya pearls but somebody forgot to tell their oysters that.

The pearls below are from a 323 round pearl lot we picked up, ranging in size from 8-12 mm, with luster like hanadama akoya pearls.

Burmese White South Sea Pearls

Tahitians also made the special list this trip. To be more specific, small Tahitians made the special list.

Our friend Alexander Collins from Takaroa (incidentally the same atoll we shot the Tahitian pearl documentary on several years ago) brought some very interesting lots to the show. Apparently the baby pearl oysters he collects to farm pearls have been uncharacteristically small over the past few years. So instead of trying to force a larger pearl from a small shell, Alexander started using smaller implants.

Tahitian pearls as small as 7 mm are a very rare find outside of French Polynesia. It isn’t because they are never harvested. It’s because they rarely have enough nacre to be legally exported. But Alexander left the shells in the water for the full 18 months, so his baby Tahitians have thick nacre and are only 7-8 mm in size. He had thousands of them! We only purchased one lot of around 1000 pieces. We aren’t sure what we’ll do with them yet, but little pearls usually end up going to little h.

7 mm Tahitian pearls

There was a Japanese pearl dealer who was attracting attention with a special Tahitian keshi lot unlike any I’d seen before. The pearls were a special dark peacock – the sort of keshi pearl one finds one or two of in a large lot.

Although the lot attracted substantial attention at the show it remained unsold until the last day. On the last day of the show, Hisano was able to convince (or should I say charm) them into splitting the lot, allowing us to take just 30 momme. These are going to be fun! Hisano is already pulling special pearls for her Tahitian Pearl Geode and keshi ring, the best-selling piece at her Las Vegas JCK Debut in May.

dark peacock Tahitian keshi

The final pearls to make it to the Hong Kong Special List are some of our favorites – Vietnamese Akoya Pearls. Our Japanese friends who farm in Vietnam always produce some of the most amazing natural-color baroque pearls we ever see. Hisano has a particular affinity for them and for that reason I am going to leave the special Vietnamese akoya news to her! That blog post will be coming soon.

That’s the special Pearl news of the trip. We also had a lot of fun with friends. This last photo is of Hisano and Justin Hunter of J. Hunter Pearls Fiji posing with Peking Duck :)

Hisano Justin and the duck

A trip to Paradise (and Hong Kong)

My apologies for being a bit late on the Hong Kong pearl report. Shortly after Hisano and I arrived back in Los Angeles I had to leave again to attend my son’s graduation from Delta Flight Attendant Training. We once again have a flight crew member in the family!

Hong Kong was fantastic as it always is, but the best part of the trip was our visit to Paradise – Jewelmer’s pearl farm in Tay Tay, the Philippines. It was my second trip to the farm and while it wasn’t a leisure trip, it certainly felt like it.

We brought a GoPro camera and shot quite a lot of video, including from a helicopter over the farm and underwater where Hisano and I swam a full line as the panel nets were being flipped. Video always takes a lot of time to piece together, so in the meantime here is some eye candy to enjoy!

It requires breathtaking beauty to grow perfect golden pearls

It requires breathtaking beauty to grow perfect golden pearls

Click the image to zoom in and see the actual pearl lines.

Click the image to zoom in and see actual pearl lines.

This is why pearl farmers MUST be environmentalists. This is the purity required to grow pearls.

This is why pearl farmers MUST be environmentalists. This is the purity required to grow pearls.

We took a "Pearl Line Selfie" at 20 meters :)

We took a “Pearl Line Selfie” at 20 meters :)

Each panel filled with pearl oysters is flipped

Each panel filled with pearl oysters is flipped

Somewhat eerie yet so beautiful.

Somewhat eerie yet so beautiful.


Yes, those are fish - thousands of them.

Yes, those are fish – thousands of them.

It was difficult to leave, and the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong immediately following serene paradise was bit of a adjustment, but there were pearls to be found and only three days to find them. We missed the first two days of the show while in the Philippines.

Apart from the regular shopping list items we did stumble accross some special things! We picked up some insanely colored Edisons including a dark purple strand and matched up a bunch of giant ripple pearls to create a colorful monster.

We also discovered a small Japanese company that had not come to the show before and one we’d never seen in Kobe. They’re niche is very specialized – baroques. In the past I had only been interested in the natural-color silver blue baroques but only because the whites that I’d seen were borderline rejects. The white strands they had were different – lustrous with great colors and visibly thick nacre. They were also big – 9.5-10.0 mm. They didn’t have many of the large strands available but we ended up taking all of them inlcuding their natural-color silver-blues.

To understand the size of these pearls, that center ripple is 18 mm.

To understand the size of these pearls, that center ripple is 18 mm.