The senior man at my favourite wholesalers here in Hong Kong has me totally sussed as a real pearl junkie. His – very successful – technique is to wander past me, with some amazing new pearls in his hand, letting me catch just a glimpse, like allowing a dog to catch just a whiff of a steak.
So I’m sitting there. feeling a bit disoriented, long flight, not much sleep . check in to hotel and straight out to get the pearls, and I’m looking for some huge perfect white buttons. when he comes over with this hank of five strands of the most amazing – that is most amazing- huge natural coloured rounds. One strand in particular has all metallic lustre and I can already hear it’s siren sussuration..’I’m so pretty..take me home with you, take me home. I love you…take me home’ I’m resisting so hard. This trip is all about specimen singles and pairs. It’s going to be sitting in offices going through thousands of pearls for those double double shiny elusive few which you can only source in person.
Within seconds this one strand especially is talking to me, and I’m cooing back at it and stroking it.
Love at first sight
still in love
Now there have been a lot of natural colour bead nucleated pearls around in the last year or so, most of them with very washed out colour, as if they had been bleached in the sun. There were the very rare spectacular deep plum strands a few years ago, but none even of those in spite of the clamour for them at the last couple of trips. Deep rich coloured bead nucleated pearls were not happening. Then these five strands. All deep rich colour and with lustre from very very good to metallic. From talking with other buyers last night it seems as if each wholesaler has managed to source just a few strands.
With its friends
So far I have resisted…sort of. That one strand is tucked away in a drawer. Oh I am so weak.
But what would you do?
In other news of pearls from an afternoon of rather jet laggy selecting (HK is seven hours ahead. The plane I travelled on had recently played host in the cargo hold in the tail to 12 horses, two elephants and one £1m+ car…though not at the same time. The flight attendant allowed me a peak into the hold. Just packages and webbing and all remarkably scruffy, with a faint wiff of horse still lingering)
Lustre is simply getting better and better. Wholesalers are taking to labelling stock AAAA when they have a bag full of metallics. Supplies are good and prices stable.
Not posted for a while….it’s been busy but uneventful, with added stock sorting. And compiling lists of wants and needs and requests for Hong Kong next week. Wendy will be making blog entries every day, with photos so follow the first pearl adventure of the year
Until then, here are two stunning necklaces sold by pearl friends
First is a necklace of perfect archetypical peacock Tahitians from one of the world’s biggest wholesalers of Tahitians, Wiart Loic.
The green body colour and aubergine ‘eye on each huge perfectly round tahitian is …….oh…….perfection.
Second, this necklace of huge white round pearls is made up of freshwater pearls..yes, really, freshwater pearls. It comes from lovely Jack Lynch of Sea Hunt Pearls. He’s the man who coined the name ‘souffle’ for the huge hollow pearls.
The pearls are 15.4mm to 19.3mm and would have been yours for a modest $20k, if you had got to him before his buyer..but it does go to show that fabulous freshwater pearls are just as much fabulous pearls as their equally bead nucleated cousins these days.
Final reflections on this year’s buying trip. There are good pearls out there, but the only way to find them is undoubtedly to select them in person. With the best of relationships with a supplier, if you order, say, 10 strands of AAA white 8mm round pearls, that is what you will get, but you won’t get ten with metallic lustre. You’ll just get 10 strands from the AAA white 8mm bag or hank. Nor will you get pearls like that blue baroque Edison or the ripple gold south sea. They were both one-offs which I had to be there to scoop.
I had all sizes and shapes of loose (that means individual not strands) half drilled pearls on the big list. They had been very short of supply last year and this year was not much better. I don’t think I found any blacks which I wanted to buy in any shape or size. And just a few natural colours. Given that loose pearls are invariably more expensive than pearls in strands you would think that decent pearls would be selected out for this, but it seems not.
Bead Nucleated freshwater pearls continue their march for pearl world domination, with non-Edison branded pearls now very close in quality to the originator of the method and with a rapidly expanding portfolio of sizes, colours and surfaces. I saw, not just ripples and smooth big pearls but more of the baby white Edisons (I still have some from last year), smaller coloureds, tiny round 5mm vibrant coloured ones I was told were keishi, and generally more and more ‘routine’ pearls with a bead instead of solid nacre. Are solid nacre freshwater pearls going to disappear or be so rare as to be highly prized a few years into the future?
Finally, we are pawing at the pearls from today once we have caught up with the order backlog (for which we massively apologise) and we will be posting new makes and pearls as soon as we can in a separate section (we have yet to think up a good name for it!) watch not this, but that space
It isn’t really very earth shattering news, but we’ve made it easier for pearl lovers to find the gorgeous ripple pearls on the Pearlescence Website (here) .
Nerida Harris of Australian pearl trade supplier Pearl Perfection and I spotted the first of the ripple pearls to appear on a vendor’s stand at the Hong Kong Gem show in September 2010. There was one hank, buried under many other white pearls and the rage of the time, souffle pearls (whatever happened to them?) Just the one hank of eight strands of these huge, rippled surfaced pearls of obviously natural colours which looked as if they had had gold leaf appiled to parts of their surface.
Classic ripple pearls – pink, lavender, blues, and the gorgeous gold leaf overlay effect
Nerida took four and I took four.I can remember we looked at eachother and said ‘oooh’ They sold within a few days of going on our websites.
We got more next time we were each in Hong Kong. I found some huge white ones which I only realised when I got home and looked again at them looked remarkably like white south sea pearls
White ripple pearls. Some have the same satin lustre as south sea pearls for a fraction of the price.
Rpple pearls have proved so popular now that I decided that they need to be easier to find on the website and merit their own section – so it is here
The pearls are bead nucleated and are usually between 10mm and 16mm in size.
There are lots of places on the ripple bandwagon now – and when I was in Hong Kong last September they were certainly more plentiful. But there were an awful lot of really second rate pearls around, with poor colour and massive blemishing. Just not good enough for Pearlescence. The sort of pearls which end up on eBay or with sellers who don’t go to Hong Kong or mainland China to select each and every strand themself.