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.
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
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.
Perfect round white south sea pearls. The one on top was their best in stock – about £10k.
This strand of beautifully matched green peacocks would be about £7k
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!