Post-Show Pearl Projects

My entire office has been overrun with pearls since we came back from Hong Kong. Boxes filled with pearls started to arrive as soon as we came back.  It’s quite a puzzle to piece together the handwritten invoices and many strands of pearls trying to remember which pearls we got for what purpose before they all go back to our inventory.

We were able to find a lot of fun things like interesting-shaped soufflé pearls that we added to our monthly sale page, as well as the drop shaped colorful freshwater metallic strands. We also found some unique pieces like the pistachio akoya strand Jeremy blogged about a few days ago.

My first project was to pair up all the white metallic drops. We were excited to get some intense 8-10 mm drops this time.

Jeremy and I were able to get a handful of natural-colored, drop-shaped metallics too.  Do you see those giant round-looking pairs mixed in with the drops? Those are the famous ‘Edison Pearls.’ The colors are absolutely amazing!

During the show I started to collect 2 special items. One was the deep lavender freshwater drops.

These were mixed in a pile when we were sorting for the metallics. It’s very difficult to get deep rich lavender hues so I started to keep them aside whenever I saw them. I brought back a small lot of 10-11 mm and 11-12 mm and was able to make one card of pairs.
Another item that I started collecting was perfectly shaped teardrop pearls.

I have no clue what I will be doing with these but I am sure I will be collecting more at the next show.

Now that the pairs are done I am on to the next pearly projects!

A few notable pearl finds

Following Hong Kong, I spent a week in Europe so we are just now getting around to organizing and categorizing all the pearls Hisano and I were able to find. We were able to collect quite a number of the metallic white drops that sold out in a day last April, and Hisano is currently making as many pairs as possible before reaching out to those awaiting their earrings and pendants.

While we found quite a lot of amazing pearls, a few really stand out as being truly different.

One strand of akoya was unlike any I’ve ever seen. We’ve often carried natural-color silver-blue, golden and natural-white akoya, but this strand is Pistachio. The pearls have a natural, pistachio-green body color with thick, Vietnamese nacre. This strand is one of a kind.

Natural Pistachio Colored Akoya Pearls

Natural-color akoya pearls with pistachio-green body color

Hisano and I spent most of our time looking for the new, unusual and spectacular. Much of this involved going through countless lots of loose pearls to find those rare exotics that break from the norm of typical pearl possibilities. Most of the time there aren’t enough perfect exotics to make uniform strands, so we will typically make either multicolor pieces, or pieces of jewelry that require fewer pearls like tin cups or pendant and earring sets.

That wasn’t the case with the lavender-golds that we collected. We were able to make one strand. The pearls are perfect, and all very close to 10 mm. This is quite possibly the best 10 mm metallic freshadama strand we’ve ever made.

Metallic Lavender Gold Freshadama

A perfect strand of 10 mm, metallic-lavender-gold freshadama pearls

We also spent quite a bit of time collecting fireball pearls. Most of them we kept loose for earrings and pendants, but with some of them we decided to be a bit more creative. Hisano spent several hours collecting enough fireballs with strange, copper-green body color with purple and pink overtones to create a strand and bracelet combination – side-drilled.

This one is eventually going to need a photograph on a bust to really show the uniqueness of the finished piece.

Large fireball freshwater pearls with copper-green body color

Large, side-drilled fireball freshwater pearls with copper-green body color

These are just the tip of the iceberg, and more special finds will be debuting soon! Since Hisano is working with the loose drops and other exotic baroques, I’ll let her describe some of those finds in her own words soon!

Just finishing up in Hong Kong

We’ve just finished up the annual June jewelry fair in Hong Kong, and while the show was not one of the largest, there were still pearls aplenty. I am headed to Europe from here, so I won’t be back in Los Angeles until the first week of July. Hisano is headed back now, many of the new pearls in hand!

For a quick recap, we did manage to collect a few more large, metallic white drops. We didn’t find as many as we were hoping to, but those on the waiting list for pendants should finally get their pearl! Apart from the metallic whites, we found a lot of truly unique, exotic freshwater pearls (click the image to the left).

Small Tahitians were still difficult to come by. The Poe Rava Nui auction was held just before the show, but small-size lots (with emphasis on 8-9 mm) were scarce. We did manage to pick up one lot from a farmer visiting the show.

Akoya pearls weren’t on the list, but we met one producer, a newcomer to this show, with a few amazing strands of 8-10+mm graduated, natural-white-color akoyas. We put a hold on the strands, which are now on their way back to Japan to get natural-color certified.

More pictures will be forthcoming when I am back in Los Angles and have a chance to unpack all the loot!

Heading to the June Hong Kong Jewelry Fair

The Hong Kong Jewelry Fair, June 2013

We are leaving for the June jewelry show in Hong Kong tomorrow, June 18th!

If it seems like Hisano and I were just in Hong Kong at a show, it’s because we were, just this past March. The March jewelry show is one of the large shows, while the June show is Hong Kong’s smallest. Although small, the 2012 show featured more than 1,700 exhibitors for 36 different countries and attracted more than 25,000 buyers from around the world. This year shouldn’t be much different.

Before each show and/or trip to Asia we compile our ‘Waiting-for-Pearls’ list. This is a collection of special requests for certain pieces and styles of pearls that we don’t normally carry, or that are simply hard to find. The longest list we have is of our friends awaiting more of those white metallic drops that sold out in a day. We are hoping to find a lot more of them.

If anyone does have a special request not yet on the list, please email me directly, Jeremy (At) If we’ve already left, send a message to anyone on the team and they will get the request to us. I can’t promise we’ll fill every request, but I promise we will try!

Crowds registering for the Hong Kong Jewelry Show

The registration hall at the Hong Kong jewelry show can get quite crowded


Tucson Gem and Mineral Show 2013

I have been attending the Tucson Gem show with Jeremy for the past three years, and it has now become our annual event. During the month of February (some shows start in late January) the whole city of Tucson turns into gem and mineral shows. There are tents everywhere. Convention centers are filled with booths and hotel rooms transform  into small shops of beads, fossils, minerals and jewelry.

There are few things that I always bring to Tucson, but the number one essential item is the humidifier. Tucson is a lot drier than Southern California and it’s usually a lot cooler and windy in February. The dry heat of the hotel rooms and chilly winds play havoc on unaccustomed skin and it is a must-have for us. I brought travel-size humidifiers in the past but they just weren’t enough. This year I bought a quarter gallon size that runs for 10 hours.

When visiting shows wet wipes, hand sanitizers and bottled water are necessities. Tucson is not only dry but dusty and so are the piles of beads and findings. The tented gem shows have limited bathrooms (the good old port-a-potties). I get so immersed to the hunt for something special that I often forget to eat or drink. I am adding power bars to my list for next year.

The first day of Tucson is all about pearls. This year started with a lecture by Elisabeth Strack at 9am. Strack, a gemologist specializing in pearls and the author of Pearls the most comprehensive book on pearls, gave a lecture on “Pearl testing: How to distinguish cultured pearls from each other”. Working with pearls every day, I heavily rely on my experience to tell the difference in pearls. The lecture focused on the scientific methods to differentiate fake, freshwater, saltwater and natural pearls.

After the lecture the Pearl-Guiders met at the lecture room and began our “pearl walk”. The pearl walk consists of visiting pearl vendors at the AGTA show in Tucson convention center and GJX show that is across the street from AGTA. We started with the GJX and went booth to booth meeting with US and overseas pearl vendors. We visited Kojima Pearls who carries beautiful finished pearl jewelry as well as unfinished strands and loose pearls, Jewelmer, the king of golden south sea pearl, and Sea of Cortez pearls, just to name a few.

Agatized GastropodsDuring the walk, I wandered off from the group for a bit and stumbled into a booth with interesting looking shells. They were called Agatized Gastropods. The seller told us that these fossilized shells were over 100 million years old. I decided to purchase this unique find and as the rest of the group came to the booth they were also mesmerized by them. Jeremy bought a pair and most of the group bought some. Click the photo on the left to see a super-size version of these amazing shells!

John Tu's Pearl BoothFrom GJX we walked over to Riverpark Inn where we met with John Tu from Taiko Imports. John is another beloved vendor that Pearl-Guiders love to purchase from. We spent a good amount of time looking for specific pearls that were on Pearl-Guiders’ shopping lists. After we parted from John’s booth we called it a day since Jeremy and I were attending the CPAA (Cultured Pearl Association of America) party that evening. Besides the humidifier and wet wipes, I bring along lots of pearl jewelry. Every night we have some sort of dinner or party to attend and I need to be decked out in pearls!

On Day 2 I scoped out the AGTA show in the morning. The AGTA show has more of the high-end pieces like finished jewelry in gold and precious stones as well as some pearls and beads. I found an 18K diamond bar clasp that would hold 10 strands of pearls with diamond spacer bars to secure the pearl strands in place. It was expensive, so I decided to think about it for a while. It was a good thing I wrote down the price because I went back to the booth on the last day to make the purchase and the vendor had quoted me a different price. I plan to use the findings for the PearlParadise look book for the Fall/Winter 2013.

Mabe Pearls from Sea of Cortez

Mabe Pearls from Sea of Cortez Pearls

Kether, member Caitlin’s daughter and Pearl Ruckus attendee, came to pick me up from AGTA and we left to see the other shows. Jeremy stayed for meetings with other pearl people. He and I have very different agendas at Tucson. He goes to reconnect with other pearl vendors and experts while I try to go to many shows possible to find something special for my little h line  and The Pearl Collective.

After a quick lunch, Kether and I drove to JOGS show where we didn’t stay for very long. A lot of the things sold there were finished silver or base metal jewelry. There are a lot of low-end tchotchkes that are sold in these shows. You can’t really tell from reading through the list of directories and there isn’t much information online either. We moved to the Holidome where there’s more variety of goods. I found some odd shaped corals that were perfect to frame pearls or stones in. I like pairing gold chain and turquoise beads with corals and it may be a new line for little h. I also found some 6 mm diamond screw clasps for the PearlParadise editorial look book. We’re always on the lookout for different clasps in style and sizes and I was pleased to find some small clasps that would work for the upcoming look book.

Turquoise Beads and Coral

We ran out of time that day and I returned to our hotel afterwards to get ready for the annual Pearl-Guide dinner that we host. The group is growing larger every year and it is a blast to dine with pearl enthusiasts like Caitlin Williams and Elisabeth Strack.

I had the third day all to myself. It was a little daunting to drive the enormous Ford Explorer we rented but I had a great time. I went to the Gem Mall and spent most of the day there. I had really good finds for Pearl Collective. Our spike collection has been a big hit and I was on a hunt for different style of spikes. I found some styles that were different from our past ones. I got myself a strand of turquoise slate shaped beads as well as tear drop shaped freshwater pearls that were framed in gold plated silver. I saw some vintage pearl brooches that were crescent moon shaped.

That evening Jeremy and I attended the GIA Alumni party. We had donated some of our finest freshwater pearls and South Sea pearl earrings for their fund-raising auction.

The final day of the show I purchased some stones at the GJX show. I walked around the show from the back end since I didn’t check out the area during the pearl walk. I found a booth filled with rare colors and assortments of stones. I purchased small Geode Agates. I thought it would be fun to insert pearls in these crystal filled hollow shaped agates.

Before I did more financial damage Jeremy found me and we were off to the airport. I had so much fun at the show this year because it reminded me of the time when I frequently went to local gem shows. It’s truly entertaining to find intriguing stones or beads and let your imagination run.

Golden South Sea pearls from Jewelmer

A beautiful golden South Sea trifecta from Jewelmer