A Tokki pearl is a type of pearl you will either love or hate. Love for its unique form and character, or hate and despise as something not perfect and of no value.
Tokki pearls are sea pearls with distinctive knobbles (which can either be solid or hollow and which are usually a keishi pearl which has formed inside the pearl sac and therefore stuck to the cultured pearl.
This little chap sits on my PC screen and has done for years. He’s a blue baroque south sea pearl with darker blue ‘eyes’. I came across him several years ago now in Hong Kong.
That same trip I found and was entranced by some Tahitian tokki which I thought resembled pokemon.
Those I made into cheerful solitaire pendants.
Later on I also found a very lumpy blue south sea tokki pearl
And sometimes there’s one wholesaler who has unusual pearls (love that wholesaler!) including strands like this
So, what are tokki?
There are three types of tokki formations. Firstly all tokki pearls will be at least second graft pearls (more often third graft), and something goes awry during the graft process.
1 – there’s a cavity or growth which is anchored on the nucleus of the main pearl. The tokki will be smooth across the join because the pearl sac will be making nacre to cover everything
2 There’s a bit of something – dead tissue, a chip of nacre, a fragment of something, in the pearl sac with the new nucleus. It’s separate to the nucleus. This type will form a clear border around the joint between main pearl and tokki blob.
3 Sometimes a fragment of pearl sac will be severed then subsequently attach itself to the main pearl sac and ‘graft’ itself back into place
A characteristic of all tokki is that they have a calcium carbonate central core surrounded by organic-rich layers, and loose ring structures, with fissures.
Sometimes the tokki are firmly stuck and integrated into the rest of the pearl and at other times they may ‘ping’ off.
It is a rare pearl farmer who admits to any in a harvest and most wholesalers don’t carry them, and why would they when the market wants round pearls. But if you love them for their individuality then…enjoy! We do!