Monthly Archives: March 2015

Oriental magics – wonderful pearls

This has been such a successful trip. I’m home now, and unpacking all the loot from the last week’s hard pearl searching and sourcing, firstly at my favourite wholesalers’ offices and then at the Hong Kong Spring gem show. The pearls have been quite wonderful and we spent many hours in discussion on how far the quality has advanced in only five or so years. Bead nucleated pearls in all sizes were more available, but the biggest and best are still as expensive as South Sea, and rightly so for they are beautiful and as rare, if not rarer

Star of the Show

The stunning ‘new’ of the show were AAA clean pearls in deep shades of amethyst, purples, and pinks. All natural colours. These pearls have a bead inside and take three to four years to grow a good thick layer of nacre. The purple colours are the result of a little bit of mutation mixed with some very clever selective breeding and nucleation by farmers.

ming pearls ming pearls

Stunning bead nucleated pearls


deep pink/purple Ming pearls

This strand is a pinky purple. It’s the one which spoke to me the moment I saw it!

Amethyst purple strand from Jack Lynch of Sea Hunt Pearls

Amethyst purple strand from Jack Lynch of Sea Hunt Pearls

Pearls with such rich natural colours are new this harvest and quite stunning.


Plenty of really good ripples around, as well as hundreds of strands of pallid spotty ones – those are the ones which turn up on the usual websites.

Deep pinks and golds ripples. Not huge but great lustre

Deep pinks and golds ripples. Not huge but great lustre

Small -11mm t 12mm round ripples. Again, great lustre and colour

Small -11mm to 12mm- round ripples. Again, great lustre and colour


I found two outstanding Ming strands on my last day at the show. These are dyed, yes, but the size, surface quality and lustre make them dramatic strands and potentially pretty knock-out necklaces

 Deep silver grey Ming strand, sizes 11.8mm to 16.8 mm

Deep silver grey Ming strand, sizes 11.8mm to 16.8 mm

The colour of this strand is a deep silver grey, with a faint blush of pink. The surface isn’t clean but about half the pearls are metallic and the rest are close to metallic.

Very rich gold Ming pearl strand. The pearls are 12.1mm to 15,6mm

Very rich gold Ming pearl strand. The pearls are 12.1mm to 15,6mm

The gold strand is also not perfectly clean, there are minor surface marks but again, there is a lot of metallic lustre


Unusual pale silver to dark grey akoya pearls

Unusual pale silver to dark grey akoya pearls

We don’t carry a huge stock of Akoya pearls, mainly because it is a very specialised market well populated with experts who can supply white round pearls in various grades and qualities.

But I did find these four strands of shades of grey (!) very baroque metallic akoyas. They are 9mm to 10mm or so and very lumpy and bumpy, roundish to drops, but with great metallic lustre and strong overtones of pinks, blues, greens on some pearls.

I had hoped to get some of the mixed natural colour akoyas which were very unusual and rare a couple of years ago but farmers and wholesalers seem to have got wise to that one and there were many strands, all very expensive.

Classic whites

Finally I stocked up on classic white strands. I found some absolutely lush totally metallic 10mm to 11.4mm. The two strands are almost perfectly round and white white, with almost invisible  light surface marks.

White near perfection

White near perfection

I also replenished our stock of all nacre white freshwater round pearls in various sizes. Total classics.

And Finally

Black hearts

Black hearts

I spend most of my last afternoon trying to find some heart shaped strands. They are very popular but it seems no-one is growing them. All I found were these 10mm dyed black hearts. They have a good clear heart shape and some great colour and lustre. As you can see from the photo they have been drilled on the skew. Adds interest. I’ll keep trying to find some hearts in white and natural colours!

Next time

As soon as I can. Pairs and singles, then some new and exciting findings



More earring pairs and some fun akoya

Today I was out at the show proper for the first time. The list is almost covered so today has been bowing and picking up some of the peals I could not get in Tsim Sha Tse..especially akoya. I had some akoya requests. Mostly straightforward white earring pairs, plus a special of a ring iwth small black and white akoya with the shank like the one you’ve seen on me in the last few posts. (everyone admires that pearl by the way. It really is mirror metallic)

Who knew how hard it was to find a single 5mm black akoya pearl. They just aren’t being dyed or something. In the end I did, but I had gone up and down all the aisles of the akoya specialists looking. On my akoya trek I did find these three fun akoya nayural colours very baroque pearls. Super colours and metallic lustre. Serous haggling means a great price will be possible. Round natural colour strands have quadrupled. Presumably the farmers and dealers have twigged how popular natural colour pearls  have become and are leaving them as is rather than bleaching them all white. Plenty of natural white about too. But I’ll leave white akoya to those who have them covered already. That market is full.

akoya pearls

Very baroque natural colours akoya pearls. Lovely colours and wow lustre

Heading back to Grace for a sit down and a chat with my long term friend there, Cicie, I spotted some luscious  huge deep strong natural colour button pearls and went through their entire stock to find just these few pairs – up to 16mm and metallic. Being buttons they’ll make better earrings as they sit better and more neatly to the ear lobe than rounds when you are getting into seriously big studs.

natural colours pearls

Sumptuous HUGE natural colours button pearl pairs

I was so tempted to browse and get some more of those rich huge strands of purple, violet and lilac matched strands like my new one but resisted. But if anyone seriousy wants one please email me now = last chance for me to select one tomorrow before I head home.

It was time to head back to Kowloon but finally these two strands caught my eye on my way out so I got them. Dyed black big rounds, lovely range of colours, and metallic.The photo shows them darker than they are.

black freshwater pearls

black on the way out strands

Earring 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,’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.


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!