Tag Archives: pearl

Pearl opening parties – a new scam

Pearl opening companies seem to be popping up all around the world, certainly in the UK and on facebook in the last couple of weeks or so.

This pearl opening thing has been around for years. Every so often someone will come up to one of us and say they got this pearl at some place which had a tank of oysters and they picked one and it had a pearl in it. In one place in America I heard of boys diving off a pier to get the shells, which is a dramatic bit of scene setting.

They cause our hearts to sink. The pearls are invariably low quality freshwater pearls, but the customer will have been told that the pearl is worth £££ and is rare and very valuable. I never know whether to be honest and blow the smoke away or just gush about what a wonderful pearl etc etc

pearl opening

You can have the poor oyster in a tin – $1 a time.

These set ups are always a money making scam to some degree or other. I have yet to see one which sells genuine akoya pearls of any value. Mostly they sell low quality freshwater pearls in plated findings for – I just saw one on facebook – £35 which is outrageous

 

 

 

 

pearl opening

You can have them in a box, with a silver tone finding for $1.30 (min order 100)

The scam goes like this. The operator buys pickled oyster shells from either a wholesaler in the UK  or America or direct from china. They are vacuum packed and dead. The poor things have had a random freshwater pearl shoved into them. The process is that the pearl is inserted into a live young akoya oyster shell and then the whole is dumped into a chemical bath which makes it snap closed, and kills and preserves it. Then it is vacuum packed or tinned and sold to one of the companies at the top of the supply pyramid.

There is one company which has been recruiting sellers hard and promoting these parties, because they are selling the preserved shells and findings at a huge mark up and controlling the drilling and setting of the pearls. Big profit for them.

The party works by someone signing up to buy some of these tinned oysters and asociated stuff and told a load of nonsense about what they are. They organised a website and facebook page and get people to join an online  video ‘party’ where with a lot of whooping and hysteria, the huckster then opens one of these in front of a webcam and  – wow – you have this pearl. The huckster will give a ridiculous appraisal that the pearl is worth much money. (no it is not)

Or the opening is done in the shop or the end of the pier. But the pearl inside is yours. And, not only do you have this pearl now, but you can buy the finding -some basket pendant holder usually – to display it. And it only costs £££.

I tracked down one UK wholesaler. These pickled and vacuum packed shells cost between $1 and $2 a pop. Never more, even when packed individually in a box with a silver tone finish pendant finding. That wholesaler is selling them for £80 for five! I am in the wrong business.
The operator opens the pearl and tells you your pearl is worth £££.
It is not.

pearl opening

Vacuum packed, so you can opening them in front of a webcam- popular on facebook. $1.20 each


There are also suspicions that there is some pyramid selling going on, and I heard over the weekend of two people in America who have thought they would start up these horrible operations and have lost their money by being sent empty boxes

I’ve not yet seen a website with one of these companies which complies with UK and EU law on returns or on contact details . These are invariably low quality freshwater pearls – akoya pearls do not come in shocking pink or peach, and certainly not ready dyed black! Plus the chemical liquid in which they are preserved is probably toxic.

If I sound cross about this nonsense and scam it is because I am. It is dishonest and wrong

pearl opening

Just another example. These were the cheapest – 85cents US each


If you want great pearls talk to us – We go to Hong Kong to personally select every single pearl on the website. Our business is open, pays its taxes, is a ltd company with bona fides, complies with all the UK law, you have an address for me, you can talk to us, make returns, and we’ve been going for more than 15 years.

Shop here for finished jewellery

Shop here for bespoke commission work

Shop here for loose pearls to make into jewellery

Update

Information for a class action is being gathered in the USA. If you have had involvement with this nonsense either as a buyer or seller in the US please contact https://www.classaction.org/vantel-pearls-lawsuits who will be taking action in the ninth circuit.

In the UK contact Trading Standards and the Citizens’ Advice Bureau

Latest

There’s a new video on youtube debunking the claims by sellers of these pearls that pearls change colour when wet/dry .They don’t. The sellers are lying, they are sending out different pearls to you. More scam, more deceit. Pearls do not change colour when wet.

it’s here (with demonstrations of pearls all staying exactly the same), as made by my friend Laura , who was so dismayed by this whole pearl opening deceit she started a Facebook debunk page (here https://www.facebook.com/PearlPartyEducation/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED&fref=nf )

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3ju1wl-hH

And also

There is no such organisation as The National Pearl Association of the United States. In America you have the Cultured Pearl Association of America. In the UK we Have the British Pearl Association. The NPAUS is a made up thing to try to add credibility to a pearl opening wholesaler company’s totally ridiculous and fraudulent pearl value chart.

This chart, being shown to pearl opening punters assigns values to pearls. The values are absurd, not going to happen. No respectable pearl dealer would have anything to do with such a chart. Every pearl has a different value. arrived at by negotiation and with experience. If you are shown such a chart it is okay to laugh. Tell the person showing you that we said it was okay to laugh cos the chart is a joke with no basis in an honest pearl business

Finally…We’ve looked at some of the websites supplying pearl parties. They hide. They want your money but they do not give a mail address, just email. Ask yourself – does any reputable business hide where they are? Of course not.

Prices rising for the best pearls

Confirmation that prices for the best pearls are rising comes from the prestigious JCK magazine, which features quotes from my pearl friend Jack Lynch, of Sea Hunt pearls.

Read the full story here

Jack was talking about the more purple strand of natural deep pink bead nucleated pearls he got at the same time I got mine (see earlier in the blog for my getting them last March and then not finding any more in September in Hong Kong)

What wasn’t mentioned was how prices are rocketing for under 3mm pearls since everyone is focussing on big beaded pearls

Santa search – new gift finder feature

A whole new feature on the website just went live. Code name Santa search It’s the new easy-peasy gift finder search program I thought up a couple of weeks ago and which our amazing webmaster Neil has constructed so that it has come out exactly as I thought up.

The whole idea is to make it easy for people who are confused by the full website to have just one or two choices of pearl colour and price range. They can pick one of the suggestions or then follow it up with either phone or email if they don’t see what they want or like and we can take it from there.

Hopefully this will make it much easier for those who are daunted by choice!

 

Fabergé Pearl Egg

I’m often told that pearls are back in fashion, which puzzles me, because I never noticed them being out of fashion.  Now Fabergé has confirmed that pearls are officially totally fabulous again, as they have made their first Imperial egg for nearly a century – the Fabergé Pearl Egg

Fabergé Pearl Egg

Fabergé Pearl Egg

The first ever Fabergé egg was a chicken egg, It was a gift from Czar Alexander III to his wife, Empress Maria Feodorovna. It featured natural pearls and cost 250,000 roubles at the time (about £19.5m today).

Faberge's first ever Imperial egg, the Hen Egg

Faberge’s first ever Imperial egg, the Hen Egg

This new egg needed  20 different craftsmen to make. The shell has 139 fine white golden-luster natural pearls, 3,305 diamonds, carved rock crystal, and mother-of-pearl all set into a background of white and yellow gold. The pearls were supplied by Qatar-based Hussain Ibrahim Al-Fardan, who is a noted collector of pearls, while his family is one of the oldest and most successful of the Gulf’s pearl traders

Natural grey drop pearl

Natural grey drop pearl

 

The inner pearl is a stunning and very unusual shade of grey Gulf pearl of 0.6491momme. It is revealed when the egg is opened by rotating it on its base, when the six leaves open

Along with the Pearl Egg, Al-Fardan acquired a matching Fabergé necklace of white pearls, diamonds, and mother-of-pearl showcasing a 0.5035 momme drop-shaped white pearl

Goldsmiths’ Company event for students

.Yesterday and Friday the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and the London Assay Office held an event for UK jewellery students to learn about all sorts of businesses which support and supply their crafts and skills, from all about hallmarking itself to……pearls………..US!

outside the guild's hall

The flag’s out -outside the guild’s hall

Over the two days we’ve talked ourselves hoarse about pearls (my voice has dropped about an octave at least!) with students and with some of the leaders of the jewellery business in the country. I don’t know if I wasn’t more excited than many  of the students at who was there and who we met.

Through the imposing doors and up the sweeping staircase to our waiting stand, in the livery colour of crimson with Pearlescence in gold lettering, and under the crest of the livery company (www.thegoldsmiths.co.uk)- I know from a previous visit that security is very tight – it has to be because the London Assay Office, which checks and oversees the quality of £millions in precious metals is on the top floors.(www.thegoldsmiths.co.uk/welcome-to-the-assayoffice)

crest of the worshipful company of goldsmiths

crest of the worshipful company of goldsmiths

The Drawing Room is the room used by the film company to stand in for Buckingham Palace in the film The Queen, starring Helen Mirren. It’s all white and gold,

We set up and go round to see who else is here. It’s by invitation, and many of us are as stunned as I am to have been asked. There’s a big buzz of excitement…

The Drawing Room, Goldsmiths' Hall

The Drawing Room, Goldsmiths’ Hall

Pretty soon the students start to flood in and immediately home in on the fireballs I’ve brought. My aim in choosing what to bring was to keep it pared down and show that there is so much more to pearls than white and round and the fireballs and big ripples I selected start their job immediately. By the end of the two days I think I explained how fireballs happen at least once per hour! The students love them, and fireballs.

I did several knotting demonstrations as well during the two days. By the last one my co-ordination had gone completely and I got knots!

me plus demonstration table

me plus demonstration table

At the end, @goldpolisher and I both asked if we could keep our name labels from the front of our stands as souvenirs. We abruptly changed our minds though when it was pointed out that this would mean we would not be coming back. ‘Keep them…Please!’

Special thanks to @stevelao and Alison of the assay office, plus to the wonderful, unfailingly helpful, knowledgeable and friendly Goldsmiths’ Company and London Assay Office staff.

Most memorable moment…Looking at the panels on the wall listing the Masters of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths dating back to 1317 and realising that I’m standing right there – by invitation!

Two stunning pearl necklaces.

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.

peacocks Wiart LoïcThe 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.

jack lynch sea hunt freshwater 15.4-19.3 $20kThe 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.

Diamonds and Pearls

Two old adages had it that you couldn’t wear diamonds and pearls together and that pearls were for daytime and not evening. Don’t mix diamonds and pearls.

Well phoeey to that one – as shown last night you certainly can.The Duchess of Cornwall rocked some rocks and a three strand pearl necklace with a stonking sparkly clasp last night and looks stunning .

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall

The tiara is the Cubitt-Shand tiara, a legacy of Camilla’s maternal grandmother Sonia Rosemary Cubitt, Baroness Ashcombe (née Keppel).

Day seven….winding down

Winding down now, most of the pearls we wanted have been found. It’s been a good trip, Successful, with beautiful pearls. I think that everything which could be metallic is metallic. I’m already thinking up designs and work plans for one-off silver and goldsmithing.

Time for some reflections. There is still something of a shortage of medium sized natual colour and black rounds, drops and buttons for earrings with metallic lustre and good colour. Many of the pearls are washed out in colour.

There are very few souffles around. There were some strands and loose at the main souffle supplier but they were light and ho-hum in colour, allbeit with good lustre. I wonder if production is tailing off, reflecting falling demand. At the same time another supplier seems to have been trying to produce something similar – what were described to me as baroque bead nucleated pearls looked like souffles rather than regular baroques. They had a bead ( you could hear it rattling in some) but at the same time there was a dark brown organic stuff inside each pearl between bead and nacre. It was a dried out flaky substance. No information forthcoming on how the pearls were produced.

Bead nucleated is very much the thing. Solid nacre is almost becoming the exception. If you are wanting a sold nacre freshwater ‘classic’ white strand my advice would be to get it soon because solid nacre is going to get rarer – ask yourself….if you can produce round pearls with a bead and know most of your production will be round and at least AA wouldn’t you opt for that rather than hoping that the miracle of round and perfect AAA?

There are more and more bead nucleated natural colours and white big round pearls with smooth surfaces and great lustre. Prices are plummeting with most suppliers.  At the same time there are lots of very pallid ones out there. Mostly I don’t get them, but some had a blue/silver overtone and I’ll call them moonlight pearls. If you go for cool colours these may be the ripples for you.

From a personal business viewpoint, the main impression which has struck me is the difference in attitude to their customers between the big companies and the smaller ones. The big ones aren’t really interested in small companies and don’t want to deal with us – that was made very clear when four of us were left in the hands of an employee who had worked for the company for a week only while every other member of staff looked on. I’ll not be even looking at their stock in future And another big player had sacks of real rubbish and year old low end stock alongside their top grade freshwaters. There the folk who deal with us regularly are delightful but the managers are sour faced and never even look at you. Conversely, the smaller suppliers have the same stock, often cheaper, and know me and are pleased to see me. We compare photos of grandchildren and discuss all manner of issues (well, mostly pearl issues) Where would you go?

If you can’t be bothered to be pleasant why should I give you my money?

Day five.. pearl finding

White mirror metallic rounds.

White mirror metallic rounds.

A busy day again, full of pearl finding. I picked up where I left off, working through the wants list of loose single and pairs. It took more than an hour to find ten perfect pairs of AAA white mirror metallic pearls. It is staggering how many variations are possible in what should be a simple task – after all, how much variety can there be? Well the answer, of course, is zillions. For perfect pairs the size, colour, overtone, lustre and mirror size and quality must all match perfectly.

Of course that is perfection. Later in the day Betty Sue King and I were sadly contemplating some big round bead nucleated ‘pairs’ most of which were sort of maybe something like.  Betty Sue is a leading American pearl supplier with a lifetime of knowledge and skill in the pearl world. I just sit there learning when she is in the room.

Before that though one of the highlights was a collection of nuggety ice cream coloured 10mmish undrilled mirror metallics. Not sure what I will do with them, but at the moment I’m thinking some pretty and feminine station bracelets with silver chain.

Once I had paid for the pearls at the morning supplier I moved on to a second. Poking around the shelves, I pounced on some big and colourful bead nucleated baroques. Some of them huge -30mm and more. They were bead nukes gone a bit wonky.

Huge baroque bead nucleated pearls

Huge baroque bead nucleated pearls

Variable in quality, never the less, there were some big colourful baroques for some dramatic earrings. There were two bags of those, and then one bag of pretty rubbish pearls in which was modestly sitting this huge true blue pearl

The pearl is a true blue, not a grey with a blue overtone. It is truly blue

The pearl is a true blue, not a grey with a blue overtone. It is truly blue

The wholesale staff member and I both gasped. You can see how how big the pearl is. There are a couple of fairly big flaws but ..oh that colour!

It’s now mine (of course!)

For the last hour I dashed off to the findings supplier and grabbed silver, vermeil and gold clasps, earrings, pendant fittings, rings, enhancers and so on.  Oddly the staff wanted to go home, so I left my basket. I’ll select some of the beautiful Italian-made and designed woven silver necklets

 

 

Michelle Keegan loves her Pearlescence anklet

It must be nearly two years ago now that we supplied a simple white pearl anklet to Michelle Keegan’s stylist for a photoshoot with a holiday look.

Michelle loved the anklet so of course we gave it to her. And if you want proof that she really does love the anklet here it is out in Dubai on the beach with her and her fiance Mark Wright this week

Michelle Keegan and Mark Wright

Michelle Keegan and Mark Wright

And later on the beach (photo from The Sun

michelle dubaiMichelle is leaving top UK soap Coronation Street in May. It was her enthusiasm for this anklet which triggered the making of the whole Beach Collection – which she named.

Beach Collection items are specifically designed to be all the jewellery you need to take on holiday. Either simple pearls or pearls on leather. And they look great on men or women.

added March 30…The anklet is still sending postcards – Today’s Star Sunday calls it ‘delicate’ !

Buy one like Michelle’s here

A Special Find….Lake Biwa Pearls

Lake Biwa near Kyoto in Japan was the home once of a thriving freshwater pearl industry.Nowadays the name is often slapped onto thin stick pearls (erroneously)

I have a regular customer/correspondant, Andrew. He teaches classes in Rasa Shastra -making medicines using, amongst other things, powdered pearls.  Which is where Pearlescence comes in, obviously. We supply him regularly with both pearl powder from drilling and whole pearls for crushing.

Now a week or so ago I got an excited email from Andrew while he was in Japan, up near Kyoto. Would I be interested in some pearls which apparently were genuine Lake Biwa pearls. Lake Biwa was the centre of the Japanese freshwater pearl industry almost 100  years ago but the farms closed as the lake got hopelessly polluted, too dirty for its own species of freshwater mussel to survive.

Andrew had found the proverbial little old shop which, in a dusty corner, had some pearls which were said to be genuine Biwas.

recently the term Biwa has been slapped onto stick pearls. Stick pearls were produced but mainly production was of small, lustrous freeform pearls. Now these pearls have a slighly silky lustre. Andrew could get no clear paperwork provenance, but these certainly don’t have the look of Chinese freshwaters or of European river pearls. Their lustre is noticeably silky and they have a very clean surface, albeit not particularly regular. Sizes range between 6mm (not many) down to 1mm. they’re white with a rainbow orient.

biwa pearls

Biwa pearls

Now please note I am not saying for certain that these are Biwa pearls, just that there is a strong likelihood.

(I’m not going to drill the 1mm ones either)

About Half Done – Sorting the Hong Kong New Stock

So, we’re about half way now in getting sorted, catalogued. processed, made, into stock, photographed and uploaded all the pearl delights which I brought back from Hong Kong and the Gem Show..is it really two weeks ago now?

The time has passed in a haze and daze of sorting through  bags and bags and piles of pearls, knotting necklaces, and uploading loose strands. Now we’re as far as drilling some of the undrilled to make earrings etc.

Yesterday I sat at my workbench and went through about ten cards of pairs, working out exactly where to drill them – sometimes it’s easy to figure, as an otherwise perfect pearl has a nobble or dent in just one place,. That’s where you drill, to hide the flaw in the hole and under a finding, hopefully. But some pearls have a sort of smeary patch and deciding just where to drill is then a bit more problematic. In any case, I mark all pearls with a black dot – it makes lining up the drill bit exactly correctly much easier.

So this is how the drill area looked first thing.

drililng undrilled pearls

Cards of undrilled pearls lined up and queueing for their moment in the drill

I’ve worked fairly steadily and the queue has gone down. I’m especially pleased with a card of peacock tahitians. They really are very pretty – all peacocks and some pale ones with a tourquise body and pink ‘eye’

Tahtian peacock pearls in various body shades with beautiful overtones

Tahtian peacock pearls in various body shades with beautiful overtones

There are also some fabulous metallic white drops and some white ‘splatts’ flattish pearls shaped a bit like ink blots which will be earrings and cufflinks. Plus some absolutely fabulous huge gold leaf ripple drops for pendants and earrings – and some frilly fireballs.

Since these are all top quality pearls I usually change the drill bit after 10 pearls because they go blunt very quickly and I usually drill quite a deep half drill. It give the glue/air pocket at the end some space so that the finding doesn’t bounce out when you put it down and leave it to dry. The first time I ever drilled some pearls I did them to the exact depth of the pin and when I came back to check them after leaving them to dry every single one had risen about 1mm out of the holes. You only learn by doing!

These beautiful Tahitians will be on the website soon, and will be priced to make a great Christmas pearl present

 

 

Day Eight – At the Gem Fair. So Many Pearls

It’s a good feeling to get to the Gem Fair finally knowing that just about all the shopping is actually done and I can spend the time pottering around and picking up the odd strand or pearl here and there.

Thanks to Jeremy and Hisano Shepherd of Pearl Paradise.com I’ve ventured back into Akoya territory after some years, with the purchase of some beautiful natural multicoloured strands.

The hugepearl hall itself seemed very quiet, not many there. It could be that many would be pearl buyers were buying elsewhere or that the recession is still affecting buying.

Jeremy and Hisano were replenishing their Tahitian and South Sea stock so I got to meet lots of lovely pearls, including the carved Tahitians produced by Galatea pearls.

galatea pearls

Chi Huynh wearing one of his own carved Tahitian pearls..fabulous

carves intricate and beautiful designs into the nacre of Tahitian pearls. Some of the pearls are even nucleated with gemstones which are revealed once the carving is done – a bit like like the look of a cameo. I got to ask the man himself something I have wondered since I first heard about carved pearls – namely does the carved nacre peel and chip easily. No it doesn’t.

Kevin Canning of Pearls of Joy was also there- first time at the show and already happily clutching big bags of Tahitians.

Just to add to the name dropping (be fair, pearls is a small world)  also caught up with Betty Sue King

My final purchase? Not exciting at all. Strands of 6mm potato pearls which were needed but which I kept forgetting all week.

Job done and a bit pearl shopped out.

 

Day One – Every Pearl a Metallic Pearl

Day one, and every pearl today is metallic. I’ve spent about six hours in one wholesaler’s office today and found some stunning pearls, all metallic, every single one.

White AAA round metallics, colourful aaa black rounds which are, of course, anything but black (gold, pink, green, blue, aubergine) as well as drips and buttons for earrings: plus some weird shapes which will be…I have no idea!

The first general market news is that small pearls have shot up in price due to a production emphasis on bigger and bigger pearls.

There seem to be a few more natural colours pearls around, although this wholesaler still hadn’t got any big half drilled drops and the big buttons were mostly orangy peach (pass). Many of the white pearls ae creamier in colour than before – noticeably so. And I found some pretty nominally white strands where the pearls were just a slightly different shade. Really pretty. Plus some weird shapes which I will…I have no idea what I will do with them at the moment but they are mirror metallic natural colours. What’s not to take home?

freeform pearls with metallic lustre

Metallic freshwater freeform pearls – amazing depth of colour and shine.

I had a list, and occasionally I remembered it and got some of the pearls on the list, but for much of the time I kept finding great pearls, and who can resist great pearls? So this was my day one basket.

The day one basket of pearl purchases

The day one basket of pearl purchases

 

Michelle Keegan stays ‘Beachy’ in new Hello cover article

There’s an interview and some amazing Alan Strutt (@alanstrutt) photos of Michelle Keegan in this week’s Hello magazine..and in two of the photos Michelle is wearing her own Pearlescence white pearl anklet from the Beach Collection which she’s had for a year now! We’re so excited and flattered to see the photos – doesn’t she look stunning?

Michelle named the collection – perfect for hot summer days – after first wearing the anklet in a shoot. Her comment about how she loved it because it was so ‘beachy’ triggered a whole stream of design ideas for easy to wear, light, cool, summery pearl designs which became The Beach Collection –http://www.pearlescence.co.uk/index.php/cPath/225

Michelle Keegan

Michelle Keegan. Photo Hello Magazine /Alan Strutt

You can find exactly Michelle’s anklet here – http://www.pearlescence.co.uk/product_info.php/cPath/225_244/products_id/3755

It’s made from small elliptical or rice shaped pearls, drilled at one end so they sit higgle-de-piggle-dy on the stretch filament for a light and lacy look

There is a ‘backstage’ video of the shoot here http://uk.hellotv.com/watch/michelle_keegan/2610136974001

Look out for pearl glimpses plus the big crocodile clip holding the back of Michelle’s dress in place in a couple of shots!

 

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.

Our aim is for every Pearlescence customer to have straightforward and successful dealings with us, whether you are buying one pack of silk thread to repair a necklace or spending £k thousands on a sumptuous and rare fine pearl necklace, bracelet and earrings set.

If we got everything right first time (phew!) it would be lovely to hear from you…but if something went wrong (oh dear) then please let us know so we can sort it out. And you are still welcome to post here, since we believe firmly that any business should be judged on how they get things right and also on how they solve problems when something goes wrong (because sometimes it does)