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The rarest freshwater pearls are…

…natural white freshwater pearls, all nacre. And now I have a totally stunning necklace of these very special pearls.

I had spent the day at my favourite suppliers, head down and matching up all manner of pearls. Intermittently throughout the day the owner of the company, Michael Sze, sat opposite me, making up necklaces from loose undrilled pearls. I watched him as I took a break from matching pearls (you have to look up sometimes otherwise your eyes will fall out)

Michael worked his way through a bag of smaller bead nucleated smooth ripples, then a bag of large pale ripples (he liked that long endless necklace so much he had it drilled and knotted up immediately – you can see the knotting start to finish, including a huge tangle – in a video in the main P video listings. The knotting method is completely different to how we do it, but then I think there are as many different methods as there are knotters)

Finally, as I was thinking of finishing for the day, he brought out a small bag of maybe 500 or so white pearls…natural white pearls and started sorting them. My tired eyes went on stalks. These were simply beautiful pearls.

I started to camera phone video his selection of the choicest of these choice pearls and before I knew it I had fallen in love. Me – the queen of the bigger the better and natural coloured pearls.

 

By the time he was arranging them as a necklace I was buying them.

 

 

white natural colours, white freshwater pearls, michael sze

The finished necklace. 21 inches of beauty

Even my daughter, who isn’t remotely into pearls (!) commented ‘oh that is so beautiful, you can see the quality’

Why is it called the Romana necklace? Because it was bought with the proceeds from the sale of my 1973 Mini Clubman car ROM 308M…As a Dr Who fan, that was immediately Romanadvoratrelundar.

Updated October 2017

I made up the necklace finally

natural white freshwater pearl necklace

I’m in love..don’t want to take them off.

I’m so in love with these pearls still!

Lustre day 3

Tahitians are getting in on the act. More lustre. More colour. After sifting through nine lots of Tahitians of all shapes, sizes and colours, I, try the tenth and last, and it yields all the pearls I want, including some spectaular silver body and pink eye pearl pairs for studs, some more blues and a couple of huge drops.

blue tahitian pearls

Truely blue Tahitian pearls

The blues of these blues hasn’t really come through in this photo but they are a lovely royal blue and will look stupendous with the paler blues I got yesterday. I think I am building a necklace. No more of those pink ones though..

Those Tahitians were pure serendipity in one way though as I had no intention of getting any such at this particular seller’s. Once again i got stuck after planning just a couple of hours in that office. Many pearls, including some minute white keishi, probably 3mm, which will make some very pretty delicate bracelets, I think, matched with 7mm petal keishi discy lumps which will be drilled for stud earrings. That’s definitely the sort of drilling where you don’t actually dare look as you drill

 

 

Hong Kong 2016: Day 7

(in the morning I was invited to take part in an open air chi gung t’ai chi class. It has been years since I did proper t’ai chi and after two hours I was delighted that I didn’t fall over once)

After lunch (dim sum yum) I headed to the second iteration of the show, mostly finished jewellery, on Hong Kong island iself, at the exhibition centre. I needed to pick up some findings for a friend and wanted to look at the display materials to see what is new and exciting and would make our pearls even more fabulous, but it was all really quite meh. Same old same old. That is clearly a box outside of which I will have to think.

 

Hong Kong 2016. Day 1

I wish Hong Kong was a bit nearer…..say instead of the Isle of Man. But it isn’t so here I am after a long pair of flights.

Jet lag ignored and first thing next morning i’m already stuck into selecting. First up are these 9mm AAA metallic rounds

white metallics

stunning white metallics. you can clearly see what I call the ‘fish eye’ look which shows how clear the lustre is. These all have a hint of rose

 

Next some delicious natural colour rounds. It’s such a treat to see really good natural colour single pearls available again. For the last couple of years they have been dull and pallid and I have mostly not bought. Now I am stocking again. These are the most ravishing pearls. Even the wholesale staff admire my selections. Either a great complement, or a great sales technique!

I took this photo half way through one bag of about 3k pearls. You can see which pearls I’ve selected in a group on their own. Probably twice that by the time I had done the bag. Then I double check (and wonder why I picked some) and finally pairs or super singles to buy.

multicoloured round freshwater pearls

Multicoloured pearls. To select I take about half a scoopful at al time and select out the most lustrous and colourful

Note that I’ve been using bamboo tweezers to pick up the pearls. Using bamboo tweezers is using a great pearl tool because they stop the heat from my fingers transferring to the pearl as I pick it up, which can instantly throw a cast of fine condensation over the pearl, hiding the lustre and colour just enough to make examination difficult to impossible (Also today they are more accurate picker-uppers than my jet lagged and therefore uncoordinated fingers)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very special specimen single pearls

I’m not sure why we haven’t done this before…a section of the website dedicated to our one-off very very special specimen single pearls. These are the pearls which haven’t been listed so far, because they stand out from the general stock as unique in terms of size, shape colour, lustre or just simple unusualness.

But now I’ve decided we will open them up for other makers to select directly rather than hiding our lustre under a phone call – with, probably the result that some jewellery designers probably have no idea we have these pearls at all!

So, while things are quiet, over the holiday lull I will be amusing myself with camera and stock, pulling out the finest of what is already arguably the best stock of AAA pearls available to designers in the UK

You can find the listings here

Hong Kong pearls

You know that thing where you see someone out of context and know that you know them but how? Where? Who? That’s what’s been the biggest smile (apart from the Hong Kong pearls of course) this trip. Waiting to meet the American pearl goddess Betty Sue King of King’s Ransom Pearls (pearlgoddess.com )  someone came up to me who clearly knew me but equally clearly could not place me. T’was Lynn from one of my wholesalers.  Who was not expecting to see my standing on a HK street as she went home. Then along came another supplier. It was fun and a very small world moment.

Apologies for the late start to the trip’s blog, by the way…my laptop decided to forget my password somewhere on the way here.

The pearls have been plentiful and I’ve found many great metallics. There’s still a shortage of natural colour half drilled and undrilled in strong colours, especially that elusive lavender to purple range where lustre drops away and a dull brownyness creeps in.

ming

This is what I mean by strong colour!

Classic white pearls have been very popular in the last few months so first order of business was to find strands, undrilled and half drilled.

For anyone who thinks matching white pearls is easy..I think I managed to catch some of the subtle nuances of tone and undertone in these white undrilled round…then of course there is quality of lustre and shape and size to consider.

matching white pearls

nuances of white..colour, over and undertones, lustre, size, shape

I found some great metallic huge white round strands – up to 15mm, roundish, some flaws but hhhhhhhuuuugggeeee.

round white pearls

White strands. Round…metallic…what’s not to forgive a few flaws?

Finally, from one wholesaler, some tiny keishi strands with great lustre and delicate colour and some huge metallic buttons for great earrings which sit neatly on the lobe, have great impact but won’t flop.

minute keishi strands and big metallic coins

minute keishi strands and big metallic coins

 

 

 

 

Pearls: Piety, Poetry and Pre-Raphaelites The V and A Blog

I’ve not written anything for a month. There’s a good reason for that. I really have not written anything. because a month ago I managed to break my arm – neck of humerus in fact – so my arm has been pretty much out of action.

I’ve broken silence today because browsed up this amazing blog, written on the Victoria and Albert Museum website, called

Pearls: Piety, Poetry and Pre-Raphaelites.

It’s a must read (all three parts) for any pearl lover who wants to know how pearls have been seen and portrayed through history

http://www.vam.ac.uk/blog/national-art-library/pearls-piety-poetry-and-pre-raphaelites-part-one

In fact the whole museum website is worth a poke around (search ‘pearls’ as I did)

http://www.vam.ac.uk.

Enjoy

 

 

What are Ming Pearls?

Ming pearls are simply one brand of bead nucleated freshwater pearls from China. Bead nuked pearls started to appear four years ago and can be divided into two main categories, depending on the quality of their nacre: either smooth or rippled. From this you can split the smooth into Edison (a brand from the pioneer of this type of pearl), Ming, (the second brand, not allied to any particular wholesaler) and generic bead nucleated pearls.

(Just to remind even more, until a few years ago freshwater pearls were usually all nacre, with pearl growth triggered by the insertion of just a sliver of mantle tissue into a host shell. It was only sea water pearls (South Sea, Tahitian, Akoya and a few freshwaters such as coin pearls) which had a bead template nucleus as well as that sliver of mantle tissue)

Edison pearls

These are Edison pearls

 Ming pearls

These are Ming pearls

bead nucleated freshwater pearls

These are generic bead nucleated freshwater pearls

ripple pearls

And, finally, these are ripple pearls

The Ming pearl name tends to be applied to the better quality of generic bead nucleated pearls. It is more of a description of quality than a brand. (Edison is a brand, belonging to one pearl farmer/wholesaler. They tend to be the most expensive and can be the finest quality available in the world)

In general these new bead nuked pearls can be, like any pearls, terrible quality, with pitted, ringed, thin and lumpy nacre and washed out colour with chalky lustre. That’s probably what you’ll get if you bought from an unknown seller on any auction site. Quality (and, of course, price) runs up to metallic lustred 15mm perfectly round. flawlessly smooth surfaced pearls

golden pearl pair

A pair of perfectly round, smooth, metallic golden pearls

The pair of pearls in the above photo would pass as a top quality pair of South Seas any day – and are still very expensive, but not as expensive as south sea pearls.

So..what are Ming pearls? They are usually the better quality generic bead nucleated freshwater pearls,  but some people throw that description at any quality of such pearls. As a quality description it is really pretty meaningless. Calling a pearl a Ming pearl does not of itself guarantee any sort of quality.

February 5 2016 addendum

Contrary to what was just claimed on QVC Honora do not buy up the entire harvest of Ming pearls. Pearlescence has plenty of Ming pearls in stock and will probably buy many more in three weeks when we go pearl buying in Hong Kong. The Honora claim is simply not true,

 

Comments and Feedback on Pearlescence

At Pearlescence we value highly all feedback (though of course we prefer praise!) and we are delighted when we hear that some of our precious and lovely pearls have found a happy and appeciative new home.

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