Working with Metallic Soufflé Pearls for Black Friday

Natural color, metallic soufflé pearls with green and rose tones

There is a particular freshwater pearl producer and processor with whom Jeremy has developed a special relationship. This is the same producer responsible for the line of inception pearls, faceted pearls, and of course soufflé pearls.

In 2010, during a visit to China, the producer showed off some pearls that he thought were interesting, but he no longer planned to grow them. They were pearls nucleated with an earthen material that was removed after the pearls were drilled. The problem was, pearls are typically sold by weight, and these hollow pearls were a lot lighter than they appeared.

Hisano holding 3.4 kilos of metallic soufflé pearlsJeremy immediately recognized the pearls from the previous year’s Tucson Gem Show. Pearler Jack Lynch had debuted these hollow pearls and coined the term “Soufflé.” A few Google searches later he was able to show the producer that these pearls were making waves and he should focus on producing more.

Just a few months later, the producer exhibited at the Hong Kong Jewelry Fair and featured (nearly exclusively) soufflé pearls. The response was tremendous, both from buyers and the trade press. Soufflé pearls are now his primary business.

Just last month he harvested a fresh crop of these special pearls and offered to send us what he considered the finest pieces of his production. Last week we received approximately 3.4 kilos of metallic, natural color and natural luster soufflé pearls. We decided we had enough time to use some of them for Black Friday!

Soufflé pearls are much more difficult to work with than typical pearls. Each pearl has to be drilled and everything in side of it removed prior to being set. We’ve come up with a few tricks (thanks Marianne from Pearl-Guide!) to speed up the process, but it is still time consuming. We are still hoping to have at least 50 pieces to add to our big sale on Friday.

Now on to the eye candy!

Metallic loose Soufflé pearls with greens and pinks

Metallic loose Soufflé pearls with greens and pinks

Free form baroque metallic Soufflés

Free form baroque metallic Soufflé Pearls

Soufflés with metallic sea foam colors

Soufflés with metallic colors that remind me of sea foam

Orient so intense it looks almost like burnt orange from some angles

Orient so intense it looks almost like burnt orange from some angles

Silver, gray with blue tones

Soufflés with silver, gray and blue tones

A soufflé pearl pendant that will be featured on Black Friday

A soufflé pearl pendant that will be featured on Black Friday

Another soufflé pearl pendant that will be featured on Black Friday

Another pendant that will be featured on Black Friday – freshwater aren’t supposed to be this color!

I also matched a total of five “super strands,” but we’ll probably send those back to Asia to drill, so they won’t be ready for quite some time. Here is a sneak peek of one of them though.

A matched strand of metallic Soufflé 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

September Hong Kong Jewelry Show Recap

Hisano and I finally returned from Hong Kong last week and have been busy sorting pearls as the the shipments come in. We spent a full eight days in Japan and Hong Kong filling the vault with new freshwater, Tahitian, South Sea, akoya and even Galatea carved pearls.

On the first night of the show, we met up with our friends from Pearl-Guide.com, who came from quite literally around the world to see the show. We hosted a dinner on Knutsford Terrace in Tsim Sha Tsui. It was a great kick off for a successful week.

Our friends from Pearl-Guide.com’s discussion forum

The September show is the busiest one for us because we are stocking for the holidays, so we were selecting pearls from morning until evening, every day for the entire week. We were fortunate to find nearly everything that was on the Christmas “buy list,” and nearly everything that was on the pearl “wish list” for our friends who contacted us before we left (and those who contacted us while we were there)!

A usual, most of the excitement was in the freshwater pearl category, although we spent the majority of our time sorting and selecting Tahitian, South Sea and akoya pearls. That said, we did find a very small lot of something extraordinarily special from a Vietnamese pearl farm. The pearls were so special, they were really only for show. On the last day, however, the farmer agreed to sell them to us. Hisano is going to blog about the show soon, so she will be the one showing those beauties off, as well as the special Edison pearls she selected.

Hisano Selecting large Edison single pearls and pairs

Hisano matched a fireball strand for a special customer

Two of our friends had requested special strands; one a unique fireball necklace like the necklace Hisano matched at the June show, and another with very special Edison pearls. Hisano went through a large lot of fireball pearls with a greenish-copper coloration to remake one very special strand. I re-worked and matched the metallic, slightly drop-shaped Edison strand below with whopping 14-15 mm pearls. The size is actually quite special as the standard size in matched strands is 12-15 mm. What this actually means is that the entire strand is made up of center “hero” pearls. Most Edison strands only get one! This is going to become someone’s statement piece, no doubt.

A 14-15 mm, giant Edison metallic pearl strand

A 14-15 mm, giant Edison metallic pearl strand

The loot that I am probably most happy with was something I’ve been seeking for years, since the time we first made metallic round strands – uniform-color, perfectly round metallic strands.

When we arrived in Hong Kong, a good friend of mine and owner of the farm that gave us soufflé pearls called me to say he had something he really wanted me to see before the show got under way. He has always been our best source for metallic pearls, separating out everything he thought we would like. What he had matched this time blew me away. The strands are perfectly round, graduated and metallic, and of Freshadama grade. We selected 58 strands, including just a few mixed-color strands that were just too special to pass up. Our friends from Pearls of Joy selected a few as well, and between the two of us, we took everything he had made.

Uniform color, intensely metallic, perfectly round strands of freshadama grade

For those of you waiting to hear from us, we have nearly finished sorting through everything. If we haven’t reached out to you yet, we will soon!

 

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!