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

Little h Collection Debut at JCK Las Vegas Show

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Since I came back from our Asia trip in early March, I have been micro-focused with just one project; the Debut of little h jewelry collection at JCK Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay Resort Convention Center.

little h was accepted into the juried Design Center at JCK earlier in the year so my assistant and I have been burning the candle at both ends building the inventory.

Leading up to the show, there were so many small components that needed to be built, ordered, made and researched. It felt like working on a million-piece jigsaw puzzle. Every day I tackled few pieces of my long task list and the end result was more than fulfilling. The long late nights I spent in my office and long meetings I held with trade show expert, John, were all well worth it. I had the most intense learning experience in my jewelry career leading up to the show and the four days at the event.

Jeremy and I packed our lighting equipment and displays, rented a van and drove to Vegas not knowing what to expect. I’ve done few craft shows with my felted art pieces but not a fine jewelry trade show in this professional level. John was a great help. He knew all the supplies I needed to bring for the show.

When I first saw the two empty show cases in the booth I slightly panicked with the size of the showcase being larger than I anticipated. I wanted the showcase to look clean and not cluttered but I didn’t bring enough earrings and ring displays to fill up the space. John and I came up with unique ideas to utilize business cards and extra fabric from the busts and made our own new display.

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20150528_174845We had a fantastic show. Pearl Geode and Finestrino Collection were well received. Buyers tore off our ad from the CPAA supplement page and searched for our booth to see them. It warmed my heart when I saw the excited look on their eyes as I explained the concept behind it. I had few pieces at the Press lounge show case and at the CPAA booth and both buyers and exhibitors came to check out the sliced pearls after seeing the display.

There were few lectures and events that were happening at the show. One of the events was an interview with Patricia Field, an Emmy award winner costume designer known for her wardrobes in Sex and the City. She styled five models with jewelry from the JCK booths and my seed pearl earrings were selected for the modern bride look. She was also excited with the earrings and referred to it as “Pièce De Résistance”.

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LH-FINO-FSE-SDP-14KY copy

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It was a joyful experience for me to share my love of pearl jewelry. We’ll be back in Vegas again next year!

 

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.

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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.

Heading to the Philippines and Hong Kong

It’s just about time for the March HKTDC International Jewelry show in Hong Kong and Hisano and I have decided to visit a golden South Sea pearl farm in the Philippines prior to attending the show. Pictures and more exciting things will follow. I promise ;-)

Like always, if there is something special you would like either of us to look out for, please let us know!

Gorgeous Golden South Sea Pearls

Golden South Sea pearls grown in the Philippines