…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.
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.
There are times when I wish with all my exhausted being that Hong Kong was a bit nearer…sort of like the Isle of Man really. But it is probably just as well that it isn’t, because if I could just pop to the wholesalers every few days Pearlescence would probably be bankrupt within the week. It’s so easy to buy pearls. You just say ‘yes’ and hand over money.
We had a great time. Hard work for many hours but there were pearls. There were friends and there was round the world food. Hong Kong takes its food very seriously. There are a myriad of great places to eat, with examples of every cuisine within a few streets where ever you are. We had Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese (of course) and Nepalese.
So, what about those pearls. Quality is advancing by the month, but at the same time production is down and prices are consequently up. Throw in the drop in value of the £ against the USA $ and the Hong Kong $ and I have brought back a stash of stunning metallic pearls in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but the sadness is that prices must creep upward. When I first went to Hong Kong the HK$ exchange rate was 14HK$ to the £. Now it is 10.
Highlights from the trip.
1…Finding out that love of pearls does not necessarily fade with years
watching the President of the Hong Kong Pearl Association, Michael Sze, putting strands together from bags of loose pearls and clearly enjoying himself. Michael’s company is probably the supplier of the best quality freshwater pearls (no, not Grace) and he’s been in the pearl business well over 20 years but was still clearly enjoying himself putting strands together to take to the show which started in a couple of days. I spend a couple of days there, sitting opposite him for much of the second day as he made strands..watching and learning.
Qne special necklace made by Michael will be getting a blog entry all of its own
2 Huge Tahitians are coming soon
Catching up with Hisano Shepherd, of little h, and her strand of (souffle though they are not souffle) Tahitian pearls.
Hisano Shepherd and her strand of not-souffle Tahitian pearls
These Tahitian pearls look like freshwater souffles and are as big and as lustrous but the growing method to force the rapid growth and large size and different. Hisano and husband Jeremy Shepherd found this strand in Tahiti when there recently. There were a few loose similar pearls on sale at the show from one seller, but the prices were very high. Betty Sue King has taken a few to be assessed and investigated by the GIA.
Selling these enormous pearls has only been possible in the last few months since the legal requirement of a certain depth of nacre over the nucleus for export has been abandoned. These pearls would fail and not be exportable as they have no solid nucleus. I’ve seen similar growing efforts with south sea pearls, although weirdly, some of them also have a regular nucleus. Farmers are clearly experimenting. These will be exciting pearls, and indications are that once they start appearing in numbers in the market the prices will be affordable.
3 Freshwater Souffles
If you love freshwater souffle pearls stock up now as they are not being grown, at least in any numbers. Indeed the wholesaler who was the major supplier did not have any. But big beaded pearls and smaller beaded pearls are as common as all nacre freshwaters now
4 what is that noise?
The first show I went to had this clatter clatter shake noise echoing round the hall occasionally. I didn’t work out what it was. It was only at my second show I managed to catch noise and action together. Pearls being sieved. Pearls are sieved to sort them into sizes. The noise is distinctive and now, when you get to attend the Hong Kong show you’ll know exactly what it is first time!
There are lots more short videos available on the Pearlescence Facebook page – here