Tag Archives: hong kong

September Hong Kong reflections and musings…

I think that this was one of my all time favourite trips to Hong Kong. It was so humid that breathing felt a bit like sucking air through a sponge at times, and too much air con made my sinuses very angry, but in terms of pearls and pearl friends, perfect.

Prices were generally stable, with some silliness, especially from one company which made it very clear you can slap any old price on an item but it is only the item’s value when someone will pay it. $40k for a muddy purple strand of Edisons which weren’t even well matched? Those high priced strands weren’t even super-special. Very nice yes, rich colour, pretty clean and shiny but special…no. Grace has cut prices on a lot of stock this time around – a lot of the good colour ripple strands were really cut in price from around $1k (too high) to down to $300 which is what everyone else charges for comparable. Grace had trays and trays of the ear-wax dyed ‘gold south seas’ too- which were not selling much
There were no strands of the distinctive raspberry purples like the ones I treated myself to 18 months ago. That really does seem to have been a one-off colour from that harvest (smug mode)

There’s nothing new on the horizon, such as bead nucleated or souffles (very rare now though selling to India!) on the horizon. (although one wholesaler had just sold his entire stock of 20kg of souffles just before I arrived. That’s a lot of light big pearls
Prices are volatile: top quality prices are up while medium are down
Best seller for most sellers is high quality white rounds
Singles prices are very high
There are very few large size dyed black or natural colour singles around
Tahitian and south sea prices are falling, for less than top quality.
Funnily enough there is hardly any dyed coloured stock to be found. Any that is has probably been hanging around for years.

Day 7. Days of lustre – Final day at AWE

My final day.  I had an idea overnight so off to AWE (Asia World Expo, the huge exhibition facility near to the airport on Lantau Island, about 30 minutes from Kowloon) to find the pearls I needed – handy to have the idea before I go home rather than after, which would be what I usually manage.

So I was on a mission. First off I managed to find some new clasps by accident though.

new clasps

new clasps

These little sparkles have a post which fits right into the drill hole of the last pearl and fasten and open with a push/twist. A bonus is that once you have the ends fitted to a necklace you can change the ball to suit your whim, and they can be worn clasp out, as a feature bead.  I’ll be interested to see how they go, and also need to figure out how to finish the knotted silk without a loop to go around..that’s one to keep me awake.

Long time friend Nerida Harris,  director of Australian pearl super company Pearl Perfection had only just arrived after back to back trade shows, so we grabbed a quick coffee before she shot off list in hand. Nerida took me under her expert wing when I came here to Hong Kong for the first time. We found one of the first lots of ripple strands buried under lots of other pearls on the Grace pearl stand and split them three each. We gasped at the beauty and colour of these totally new pearls.

But on to the pearls I wanted. Without giving away my idea just yet I needed to look for some specific pearls. Not common or usual at the show, but when I found a stand with a couple of bags of them, oh the bliss of sitting down and going though them all to find just the ones which fitted the brief.

I thought I was done after that and was vaguely thinking ‘if I spend any more time here I’ll just spend’ and ‘lunch sounds nice’ when I made the mistake of showing my little collection to pearl total goddess Betty Sue King, who has forgotten more about pearls than most people ever learn and whose eye is trusted the world over. She loved the pearls so back to the stand we went and spent nearly two hours going through the whole lot again.

Sitting trawling through bags of pearls with someone as fabulous and nice as Betty Sue is a lovely, unstressed way to finish an amazing time in Hong Kong. Here we are, up to our elbows in pearls. What could be better?

Betty Sue King

Me and Betty Sue King

Goodbye Hong Kong

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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Hong Kong here we come again!

I’m looking forward to visiting Hong Kong again in a couple of weeks, for 10 days of pearl and findings shopping – it’s such a hard job but I force myself because someone has to!

Finding the very best pearls at the keenest possible prices is probably the bet bit about this whole business – even if I do reel out of a wholesaler’s offices at the end of a day selecting, matching and finding with eyes a bit cartoon whirly-whirly.

I’ll be updating this blog daily with lots of photos from Hong Kong, wholesaler’s offices, the International gem show itself and just about anything pearl related seen on the whole trip.

Now is the time to be in touch if you want me to find just that perfect pearl for something you are planning, or the finding.

The show itself is huge, probably the biggest in the world with 3,700 international companies exhibiting . The pearl hall alone is the size of a large aircraft hanger crammed with pearls. There’s another hall which is just diamonds and another is coloured stones (you can read more here)

Road to Hong Kong ..Ho Hum

What do Hong Kong and Bing Crosby have in common? Well, me and some new fans of the crooner. A mention of the Kowloon district of Ho Hum got me singing the Road to Hong Kong song, which lead to websites, video of Crosby singing and general appreciation of his marvelous voice and an interruption in the pearl selecting.

Yesterday was the first day of pearl finding and it went very very well. One highlight was finding four pairs of metallic 12mm (yes 12mm) round, smooth metallic white pearls.

white round pearls

Stunning all nacre 12mm white metallic AAA rounds white pearls. Can you see that some are even more metallic than others?

This photo also gives a clue as to how I go about selecting as perfect as can be matches. First select the best of the pearls available and then see if any of those make pairs. You can see that here I have four possibles and one pair. Eventually I made four pairs. It helps to check sizes too. When you’re scrutinising so closely what looks like a massive sie difference turns out to be a fraction of a mm, and with a head in between the pearls hopefully people will appreciate the amazingness of an almost perfectly round matched pair with a fractional size differnence

nat

Happily there seem to be more good undrilled and half drilled natural colour and black pearls this time, so I’ve already scooped some.With this many available I didn’t attempt to make pairs, just picked out the shiniest. I can made pairs later.

It’s Chinese New Year here, and another highlight was coming across a happy yellow dragon in the street,  dancing to a heavy drum beat. No-one seems sure if it is a year of the goat or the ram but happy and prosperous year of the small milk giving mammal with horns to you all!

Now I’ve just got to get Ho hum…ho ho ho ho hum ‘ by Crosby out of my head!

Day Five….New Secret Message Morse Code Pearls

More pearls today. Bit of a surprise that! I had an idea for the secret message Morse code pearls in the middle of the night – what a fabulous way to propose? Secret message ‘please marry me’ (it might have to be ‘will you marry me?’). I can’t work out the dot dash final length away from my workbench. A bit soppy romantic, but also, a permanent reminder of the question.

So I sourced white lengthways drilled metallic stick pearls for the dashes and AAA metallic rounds 7mm for the dots.

What do you want to say?

Otherwise I found some really special and unusual pearls which will  become part of the Essence Collection in due time.

;Lovely evening with the pearl goddess Betty Sue King plus with Kathleen B – new to pearl wholesale offices and in a bit of pearl shock!

Day Four…Tahitian Temptation and A Single White Edison

Day four. This is my account of how I made the classic mistake and went back to a wholesaler..and then finally bought a perfect Edison pearl

I went to the Tahitian office just to look for one pearl (of which more below) I didn’t find it but a couple of hours later I did totter out with several strands of pretty Tahitians as well as single rounds and drops for earrings and pendants.

That was not the plan! But some strands had quietly called me from when I saw them a couple of days ago – rather yummy shades of chocolate Tahitians – milk, plain and white chocolates. Then the boss wandered over and waved some other very colourful circles under my receptive nose. None of them are perfect strands: they’re marked and flawed but very lustrous and I will be able to hit a great price point for Christmas with them. Many of the flaws will only show up to the experienced eye from more than a few inches away.

It’s all too easy to get obsessive and perfectionist about having the perfectly round, perfectly smooth, perfectly flawless and perfectly lustrous pearl but from only a short distance only big flaws are visible.

I also spent some time poking around the bags of loose rounds and drops to find pearls for earrings and pendants and enhancers. I didn’t find as many as I want from the whole trip but it is something I can do at the show next week

So, why was I at the South Sea wholesalers anyway? I was on a mission to find a single perfect 14-15mm white round pearl for a customer for a ring. There were no South Seas within budget but I made the mistake of sitting down and looking round!

I found a totally luscious 16mm white Edison at another office – perfectly mirror metallic with a subtle pink and green overtone but it was way over budget. It was the sort of pearl you could take home and just look at.

white pink green 15mm round

white 15mm metallic pearl with pink and green overtones.

Eventually I switched on my brain and went to the home of Edison pearls (dur!) and of course they plenty to chose from. The one I eventually selected is perfectly round, flawless to all intents, mirror metallic with a perfectly round fish-eye and with a faint pink overtone. Bang on budget too!

five white edison pearls

Can you see which of the five I finally selected – all had the same grade but one was more metallic than the others. Proves the need to select in person. (it’s the one bottom left at 7 o’clock)

I’ve also picked out some non-classic Edisons – smallish mis-shape seconds, but I’ll be able to break the strands to make some great necklaces. Dustbin liner bags full of pearl strands gone through to find a few.

Finally another office and bags of ‘biwa’ stick pearls with fabulous lustre from which I selected some stunning pearls to develop a design idea. They had some amazing fireballs but the biggest and wildest shapes were just too expensive.

undrilled stick pearls

natural colours undrilled natural colours stick pearls. I picked these from a huge bag of AAA,

That was day four.