Tag Archives: south sea pearls

Lustre Day 4..first day of show

A wonderful first day out at the Asia World Expo gem fair, though the humidity (95% and more) is so sapping that I crawled to my room and individual aircon ridiculously early. So today’s blog will be a bit light on photos simply because at times it was hard to think through the soggy.

At these shows my first stop is now always the lovely ladies of the small company which produces akoya pearls from their one farm in Vietnam. They are always so welcoming and patient that it makes a lovely start to the day.

The first thing I want to look at are the little packets of their baroque pearls. Tiny packets of super metallic bue, pink, green and grey. Each one unique and surely an inspiration for any designers

vietnamese baroque pearls

Such amazing little gems

It is such fun sorting through the packets, marvelling at the rich colours and incredible lustre of these tiny gem pearls. Which one will excite a designer? There was a deep and rich royal blue one which I picked while it was still in the packet, scrabbling round in the tiny envelope to grasp it, it was so striking. And there was a lovely little drop too. You can tell that the colour is strong in these pearls because you can still see it clearly in the photo, in spite of the efforts of the fluorescent lights to wash out any trace of blue.

Next up the ladies showed me their few strands of natural colour akoya pearls. The strand I selected stood out, luminous metallic lustre and such beausiful colours.

The two darkest pearls are deep blue and deep green.

I also got some strands of tiny baroques, multicoloured. These pearls come from one farm in Vietnam. They are very ethically and sustainably produced

natural colour vietnamese akoya pearls

Believe it or not these are all natural colour akoya pearls natural colour akoya pearls

 

vietnamese akoya pearls

Tiny Vietnamese akoya pearls, natural colours of greys, pinks,boues, greens. Metallic

It doesn’t take long to write about it, but selecting these strands, chatting and settling such vital stuff as the price take well over an hour.

Next stop is always the main findings company. All the findings they currently have in stock are laid out in small packets and I’m soon rifling through hundreds of different clasps, earrings, and all sorts of silver. the table top is very wide so to reach the ones at the back I debated climbing right up there..but in the end just stretched. Not sure how that looked from the back!. Trying to work out what will be needed for our various couture and ready to wear lines, new ideas and one offs for customers, as well as for other designer makers is a bit of an exercise!. But having grabbed a good selection I know I can call back for a second browse..probably to buy the same new designs all over again.  There is a lot of silver with very subtly inlaid CZ for just a little sparkle

There’s more black – anodised – silver than I expected: and less rose gold vermeil.

Finally – it’s now gone 2pm – I spend the rest of the time at one of the tahitian and south sea suppliers. One white SS and one gold SS strand and then a poke around in their lot bags for the surprise pairs and singles which will make great jewellery – including a matched pair of 15mm gold south sea buttons.One is very slighty darker than the other, but with a head in between the it certainly won’t be noticeable t9 any but a pearl expert. Result!

Tired. Back to Kowloon, food and back to room to write this. G’night

‘A ray of sunshine’

It’s always nice to get praise, so we are basking fit to tan today with this email from a long time pearl lover and customer ‘ Thank you so much – I am absolutely delighted with my new pearls – Ithey are the most beautiful….I love the colour variation….It is as if I am wearing a ray of sunshine around my neck’

The pearls – south seas – came from two strands I found during my last trip to Hong Kong. They were huge roundish golds of all shades and whites and as soon as I saw them I thought of this particular customer and snapped them up. I knew she would love them.

Here they are as strands, photographed in Hong Kong, at the wholesalers.

gold south sea pearls

Huge 17mm gold south sea with some whites in one of the strands. Great colour and lustre

and here they are, blended into one 55cm necklace

south sea pearls

The finished necklace

Very satisfying to have a happy customer

 

 

South sea pearls and findings

A busy and successful day. Started with a visit to the main findings house, where an hour or so of browsing the many tiny drawers produces the stash of gold and silver to enable the making for the next few months. Thank the gods of jewellery that the price of gold has dropped. Plus I was able to get just about everything I had on the list. It’s so much easier to shop for findings in a cool atmosphere (literally, with aircon plus only me in the sales room)while the stand at the show is chaotic. I’ve never seen fights break out but there is some serious elbow action and shoving as peeps jostle to get to find the right tiny packets. One person came in while I was there, prowled around the room asked if they were going to be out at the airport for the show and then left…why would anyone do that? I was able to chat to the super knowledgeable staff and get some very good suggestions on what to use to achieve what I wanted. No chance of that with the scrum at the show.

It’s always so much more relaxed and friendly and calm at the offices before the show. Plus you get the chance to really poke around and find the good stuff.

After a couple of hours there I moved on to my favourite supplier of south sea and tahitian pearls. I was looking for some gold half drilled drops but no joy – no decent pairs for earrings. But I did find some lovely strands, including these two, at up to 17mm.

gold south sea pearls

Huge 17mm gold south sea with some whites in one of the strands. Great colour and lustre

gold south sea pearls

Same strands, head on

These two are both natural colour different gold shades with some white in one of the strands. They are huge – up to 17mm – with great colour and lustre. Yes, flaws but otherwise, wowser!

Also some smaller rounds strands, again great lustre and very strong colours.

Looking through the stocks in the wholesalers vault I spotted this collection of loose single undrilleds. Including bags of dyed gold south seas. Yuck. Whether they are dying freshwater or south sea to look like the rich high end golds, the colours are invariably horrible ear-was tones. Do not be fooled.

gold south sea pearls

It’s pretty easy to see which packets have the dyed gold south sea. Look for the extreme ear-wax tones

I’m afraid I passed on the tahitians. just didn’t get excited by them, though there were plenty.

tahitian pearls

Plenty of Tahitian pearls

Finally..a shot of the street outside the South Sea wholesalers. All tall buildings and a throng of people.

kowloon

busy street in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon

I’m having a break on Tuesday, then the show opens tomorrow – lots of photos!

Earring pairs..day three Hong Kong

Today was mostly about finding pairs for earrings and stuff like that. Pretty intense pearl studying, scrutinising and sorting. I started at my favourite tahitian and south sea supplier.

First stop was the pearls for a custom commission 14ct and gold south sea station necklace. I had already got the gold, which set the pearl budget so we needed to juggle conflicting criteria. Bag after bag of various shapes and qualities of pearls. Bigger, smaller, round, drop, dark, light. It took about an hour for me and helpful wholesale assistant to settle on these pearls.. two more than in the request but the two tiny end pearls were so delicious I hope our client agrees to keep them in.

station necklace

Nine gold south sea pearls for a carat gold station necklace

The pearls had to be graduated, mixed colours (no two same colour next to each other} great lustre and smooth surface and roundish to ovalish. It got to be a bit like playing a game of solitaire as we switched pearls in and out, until..it’s like ‘click’ that’s it!

The wholesaler didn’t have a huge stash of good rounds for earring pearls so I’ll look on Monday at the exhibition when it opens.

Then we moved on to Tahitians. I love poking in the big lot bags of not perfect pearls to find the ones which can be set to produce great items- for example, grade A baroques can be ugly lumps but there are also buttons which make amazing huge button earrings – you ust have to find them

Some of the lots have -probably – over a thousand pearls and going through the lot takes time. I usually tip some out into a tray and then scoop some into a scoop and inspect each. Possibles and probables get put top right. I’m looking for possible pendants and earrings. Once I’ve gone through the whole bag I’ll look more closely at the selected ones. First check is for lustre. If a pearl isn’t metallic it goes back in the bag. Then I look fo shape and colour for pendants..for earrings it’s colour, shape and size. So irritating when two pearls are a great match but there is more than half a mm difference in size. Grrrr

Many Tahitian pearls.

Many Tahitian pearls.

After several bas full I was a bit pearled-out. Not so much that while my invoice was being drawn up I didn’t have a delve in the vault there for their top of the range pearls.

Stunners!

White south sea pearls

White south sea pearls

Perfect round white south sea pearls. The one on top was their best in stock – about £10k.

top quality Tahitian pearl strandtop quality Tahitian pearl strand

top quality Tahitian pearl strand

This strand of beautifully matched green peacocks would be about £7k

Lots of Tahitian strands

Lots of Tahitian strands

And, finally, some more tahitians.

Later, another freshwater supplier: This supplier had some white bead nucleated pearls which are getting close to south sea pearls in terms of colour, surface satiny texture, lustre but not yet shape. Here I found some very pretty round Kasumi-ish/ripples with great colour and – finally – some freshwater natural colour and black pairs. Not enough of good quality to buy in bulk by weight so I once again selected and paired up. This puts the price up but when you don;t think that the majority of pearls are good enough or will make matches then you’re wasting time if you don’t do this. I’d have loads of orangy drops for example.

After all that I was defo pearled out with whirly whirly cartoon eyes. Tomorrow is a day off because the wholesalers are packing for their move to the exhibition. No-one likes doing that!

Day Two – Tahitians, South Seas and Fireballs

Day two in Hong Kong and it’s still raining heavily. I squelched out (literally – when I got back to the hotel at 6.30 this evening I found that the dye from my sandals had turned my feet black) and went first to a Tahitian and South Sea specialist wholesalers to find the perfect pearls for a commission necklace.

The very best  bit about being a pearl purveyor is, for me, selecting pearls.

I went through just about every strand in the office first..nah, just not good enough, or not green enough or not colourful enough. Just not enough enough.

Plan B is to open up the lots. Now some dealers won’t do this. The bags of pearls are sorted into size, shape and quality. Prices reflect an average, while the bag is salted with some fabulous pearls to brighten the lot.

So the dealer doesn’t want me coming along and cherry picking those fabulous pearls right back out. The value of the lot drops.

But I can be a little bit pursuasive and the bags found themselves opened up and two pearl fugue hours later I had the necklace. 30 beautiful, colourtful, lustrous and smooth circle pearls.

Special necklace made from  individually selected. loose drop Tahtians, very colourful, near flawless and with great lustre. 28 pearls, size 13-14mm

Special necklace made from individually selected. loose drop Tahtians, very colourful, near flawless and with great lustre. 28 pearls, size 13-14mm

Not finished, I picked out some rather nice if a bit dented circles and some totally cute baby gold south sea circles.

tahitians and south sea pearls

Hours of intense concentration later – one loose pearl necklace, tahitian strands and pairs and gold south sea circle strands.

 

And then more lovely treats – pairs of huge rounds for earrings. And one beautiful really blue tahtian.

tahitian pearl strands

Some of the selected strands – I was looking for colour and lustre more than surface perfection and shape

Then on to a second wholesalers, this time for drops. I didn’t worry too much about finding pairs, just selecting some super metallic 10mm drops – white, black and natural colours. Some of the natural colour pearls have a graduated ombre effect. subtle and beautiful and such lustre. Last year there was a real lack of lavenders, and hardly any dark lavender. There were a few, but only a few. Hopefully I’ll be able to find some more as we go along.

Finally, having a poke around in a side office I found a bag with some natural colour fireballs. I’ve never figured quite why they are soooooo expensive but they are. I couldn’t resist half a dozen of them. (put many more back #pearlheroine )

fireball pearls

First and second stages of selection for fireballs from a huge bag of them

fireball pearls

The final two

 

That was enough for one day….