My Favorite Finds from Hong Kong March Trip

Metallic Souffle Pearls

It’s been over a week since we came back from Hong Kong but pearls are still trickling in. We were very focused on replenishing low-stock items and started the show looking for Tahitians on day one, Akoya strands on day two and freshwater pearls on day three.

Here are just a few of my favorite finds!

On day one while I was “supposed” to be looking for Tahitian loose rounds, this small lot of Golden South Sea keshi pearls caught my eye.  A Japanese vendor had an assortment of keshi pearls and this was the smallest lot he had.  We purchased a small lot of white South Sea keshi pearls at the last show and these keshi pearls were even smaller. I used the white South Sea keshi for a ring for my little h collection and I will be adding these golden beauties to the line as well.

Golden South Sea keshi pearls

On day two we stopped by our freshwater pearl friend’s booth just to say ‘Hi’ before searching for Akoya pearls but we ended up staying for a bit because our friend had set aside some metallic strands for us. As Lynsey and I started looking through the lot to check the quality, we came across these strands that matched my special ring.  It was very unexpected and I can’t wait to make something special with them.
Metallic freshwater pearl strands that matched my special ring

In our hunt for Akoya, we decided to visit our friends who are Japanese, but operate an Akoya pearl farm in Vietnam. Back in September, we bought almost all of his extra-special loose baroque pearls. I knew that he was hesitant to sell the pearls because he wasn’t planning on making them anymore. I felt a little bad and decided to make two pearls into pendants for his daughters and gave them to him at the show. He was also really excited to hear that so many people had expressed interest in his pearls after my September Show blog post.

He told us that he is just now starting implantation for a new crop of natural blue baroque Akoyas and that it would be another two years before he would be able harvest them again.  The baroques he had at this show were from a selection that he had locked in a safe for a number of years to prove that the color would not change. Jeremy decided to purchase everything he had left.

Natural color baroque akoya pearls from Vietnam

Day three was all about freshwater pearls. Lynsey looked for metallic strands and Jeremy and I went through the buy list of our standard items. While I was sorting 6.5-7 mm freshwater strands Jeremy left the booth. He always says, “I’ll be right back” but that usually turns into half an hour (at least) or more. He cannot walk across the show without bumping into someone. Whether it’s our friends Kevin and Alana from Pearls of Joy, or vendors who we used to work with, everyone wants to talk to Jeremy.

An hour or so went by when he came back and when I was just about to nag him for not “working”, he surprised me with this interesting pearl. He went over to Grace Pearl’s booth to compare some pricing and found this Edison drop pearl. It was set in a 14K white gold bale and sold as finished jewelry but since the color was so unique, Jeremy bought it anyway.

I decided to remove the white gold bale and refresh the look with our Adore pendant in rose gold.

Jeremy and I get to look for fun pearls usually on the last day of the show. This is when we can concentrate on looking for wish list pearls and something different for our promotional events.

Here are some yummy fireballs:

Besides the regular Fireballs, we also found coin nucleated versions.

We had some special requests for small size soufflés that can be made into rings. Out of two containers full of smaller size soufflés, these are the smallest special ones I was able to find. These petite soufflés are 11-15 mm.

Since we had a little more time than usual, we matched some white fireball strands and small souffle strands from for-sale-as-loose pearl lots.

We’re excited to start designing with these wonderful pearls!

My First Hong Kong Pearl Buying Trip

Team member Lynsey joined Hisano and Jeremy on the March 2014 Hong Kong Jewelry Show buying trip

What an amazing trip! This past week I had the opportunity to join Jeremy and Hisano at the International Diamond, Gem and Pearl Show in Hong Kong.  I arrived late on Sunday night, exhausted but excited to see what Hong Kong and the buying trip was all about. After a 17-hour flight straight across the Pacific ocean I jumped on a train and headed to the Kowloon side of Hong Kong to meet up with J & H who had arrived earlier that week. The city was a blur of lights, people and speeding double-stacked buses.  Every corner was lit up with neon signs and high-rise buildings. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I got settled into my hotel for the night only to realize that 9 p.m. in Hong Kong meant 5 a.m. to me.  Surprisingly enough, between the time difference and my excitement I still managed to get some sleep.

The show started first thing on Monday morning and I must have been running on pure adrenaline. I have never in my life seen so many pearls! Every color, size, type and quality imaginable as far as the eye could see. It was overwhelming and inspiring all at the same time. I spent three days at the show learning about the buying process and what really goes into finding quality pearls amidst the massive quantities that are being cultured. While we were there collecting strands for Pearl Paradise and searching for wish list items, I went hunting for the ever elusive metallic white pearls. I can honestly say that metallic strands are one in a million. Out of hundreds of booths and hundreds of vendors from all over Asia, there were only a handful of metallic pearls to be found. I knew they were uncommon and hard to find but I had no clue how exceptional they truly were. To find even one strand was an accomplishment!

My Hong Kong trip was quick, but the experience was immense and not one I will soon forget! The majority of my days were spent at the show working with the pearls, where hours can escape from you in what seems like a manner of minutes. Under the intensity of the bright lights with so much to look at I felt awake and energized all day until I sat down for dinner of course, where my biggest battle each night was keeping my eyes open long enough to enjoy the amazing food in front of me.

Despite my busy schedule I managed to do a little exploring and see a few sites!  It was a whirlwind adventure that felt like a dream after the long flight back and two days of sleeping off  jet lag. I’m back in the office now watching as the packages of pearls from the show start to arrive and getting to share my excitement with everyone else as they are opened!

It’s true what they say there is no place like home, but it seems to me that there is no place like Hong Kong either!

Back in Los Angeles with some of the pearls we selected in Hong Kong

Hong Kong International Diamond, Gem and Pearl Show 2014

The large pearl and gem show put together by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council is just around the corner once again, this time with a twist! This year the council is introducing a new concept called “Two Shows Two Venues.” The first show (the one that interests us) will be held at the Asia World-Expo and will feature loose gems and pearls. The second show features finished jewelry and will be held at the main exhibition center. The shows combined expect to attract more than 40,000 visitors from nearly 50 countries.

Hisano and I will  be leaving for Hong Kong next week and Lynsey from Customer Support will be joining us – it’s her first trip to Asia and she’s pretty excited. Our pearl buying team is growing!

As always, if there are any special requests from the show, please feel free to email me or anyone on the team. We would be happy to search for that special pearl or strand.

Hisano Shepherd matching pearls

A Custom Beauty

Every time Hisano and I head to Hong Kong we bring “the wish list.” We have items on the list that have remained there through multiple shows. But every time, we spend a lot of our time trying to find those extra special pieces.

One of our friends had seen a necklace a Mikimoto that she was hoping to duplicate, only better. The necklace was three rows of akoya strands, graduated in size from the center strand to the outer strand. These sorts of necklaces can be difficult to make. Hisano made something similar in 2.5-5.5 mm akoya pearls for our Tokyo wedding in 2012.

I thought this piece would look amazing if we were able to match three strands of white metallic, freshwater pearls. We are always looking for white metallics when we are in Asia, but they are so few and far between, finding three matching strands in graduating sizes would be a challenge.

Our first attempt was at the June show. While we did collect some white metallics, none of them matched the way we were hoping they would, so we shelved the idea until the September show.

Because we deal with so many processors, and sometimes we may only find one or two from a single company, we weren’t sure whether we would be able to make the piece after this show either until all the shipments had arrive to Los Angeles. When they did, I separated all the metallic whites and found these!

Metallic White Triple Strand Strand of Freshwater Pearls

The center strand was not quite as perfect round as the inner and outer strands, but the luster and color was nearly a spot-on match, and the three strands were perfectly size-graduated.

Today the strand was finished, and tomorrow it will be on its way!

Three-row metallic freshwater pearl necklace

A three-row necklace composed of metallic white freshwater pearls

Amazing Pearl Finds at Hong Kong Sept Show

Jeremy examining strands of freshwater pearls

Our main goal for the show was to buy our main stock items for the holidays. It took hours and hours every day selecting large quantities of Akoya and Freshwater strands but we were still able to take a break and find some exceptional pearls.

Crazy metallic Edison pearls

Giant Edison freshwater pearls with insane colors
I am particularly happy with our new Edison pearls. Last season we purchased some beautiful buttons but this time I was able to select large Edison drops. These drops have very smooth clean surface with very little blemishes. I selected over 20 pairs and a handful of loose. The colors are mostly lavender with copperish overtones, few metallic-like luster with green overtones and beautiful pale pink. These warm tone 14-15 mm drops are perfect for Fall/Winter outfits!
We were also able to get some nice near perfect round white and lavender Edison pairs in 14-15 mm. These earrings will be such a perfect statement pieces.

Hisano matching giant white Edison freshwater pearls

Matching white Edison round pairs

Another amazing find was baroque loose Vietnamese Akoya pearls. The colors and luster on these pearls are breathtaking.

Vietnamese akoya pearls unlike any we've ever seen

Baroque, natural color akoya pearls from Vietnam

This is the farmer who created the unique pistachio strand Jeremy blogged about in July. His two daughters exhibit at the HK show every year and I became good friends with them. It is very rare for them to get something this large (8-10 mm) and with this luster. These pearls took 3 years into making and the farmer stopped producing them because of the low survival rate of the mollusks. Some of these pearls were the daughters’ favorites and they were very gracious to offer them to us. They also had a small loose lot of silvery blue baroques and I made few pairs. Now I need to come up with something exceptional to showcase these beauties.