Tag Archives: covid

Covid: Effects on Pearlescence

Covid has affected us. But I also have some exciting news about new stock of Robert Wan Tahitian pearls. During lockdown here in the UK I worked alone to keep things going and now we are very much a ‘face mask and wash your hands please’ place. So far the horrible virus hasn’t managed to get to us.  The government is re-opening everything far too quickly so we have decided we are going to carry on being reclusive and very very careful. We hope you understand if that means some delays to shipping and making of custom orders.

The other big problem is that, while I went to Hong Kong in Feb/March and could buy Tahitian, freshwater and south sea pearls and findings, I don’t know of any akoya sellers based in Hong Kong. Plus around now we would normally be compiling a shopping list for a trip next month. But Hong Kong has been effectively closed down since mid March, since there is a mandatory stuck-in-one-room quarantine for incomers. (and who can blame them for people from the UK?)

Now Hong Kong is coping with a huge (for them anyway) break out of the virus, so a hoped-for easing of the quarantine rules to allow the cancelled September show to go ahead in November is increasingly unlikely. Talking with some of my pearl friends in America and Australia this morning we are hoping for a vaccine and a show to go to in Feb/March.

I wonder if we will have vaccination certification stamped into passports as used to be required for smallpox when I was a child (remember smallpox? Not enough people do!)

Anyway, the pearl point of this rambly post is to tell you that in a complete break with everything we’ve done for the last decade, I bought some pearls sight unseen last month.

The larger lot of Robert Wan dark tahitians. The smallest are 12mm, going up to 15mm. That’s some big pearls

Out of the blue I was invited to participate in the first ever Robert Wan online pearl auction. Of course I was interested and eventually and cautiously bought two lots. It’s very hard to evaluate pearl quality in a couple of indifferent quality photos but I decided to take a punt and I’m glad I did. Out of around 100 big pearls (12-15mm drops mostly) I’ve made the pairs you’ve seen appearing on the website in the last week or so, and picked out some huge single pearls for pendants and enhancers.


Same lot with the pearls moved around on the tray

The colours are darkish, mostly greens with a few minor flaws and reasonably good lustre. They aren’t clean and they aren’t metallic but they are big and well coloured and if they were clean and metallic and well coloured they’d have been three or more times the price. So good deal for me is good deal for you all.

There was also a lot of lighter, also big drops:

Lighter and lustrous Tahitians.

Read up on Robert Wan here – https://www.robertwan.com and you’ll be able to find out more about the ‘father’ of Tahitian pearls. He is the man. I have to say his Hong Kong office is a delight to deal with and the pearls drill like a dream. I don’t know what they use for nucleus but I wish every pearl farmer used the same.

More sustainable and environmentally friendly packaging


Our new packaging. Light card and printed ribbon.

Our new packaging. Light card and printed ribbon.

One of the few good things about the whole covid thing has been that there has been a little time for reflection outside the hurly-burly pressure of the everyday routine.

Once we here had adapted to the interregnum of being confined to homes (basically everyone stayed home except me and I went back to the early days and did everything!) I did have time to think about some aspects of how we do things. Stay with me and (I hope) follow my thinking.

It’s very clear that decimating flying has had a positive effect on the environment. At the same time it is our proud boast that I select every single pearl we offer for sale. That’s me, in person, with my own eyes and hands, going through a wholesaler’s stock and selecting, in person, every single pearl. It is one of the things which I am most proud. No remote buying, no relying on others and certainly no remote drop-shipping while pretending to stock and ship everything.

But that core business-model means I have to sometimes move my eyes and hands, and the rest of me to where the pearl wholesalers are. That’s in the Far East. Mostly in Hong Kong, but also Thailand. (plus I have been trips-of-a-lifetime fortunate to visit actual pearl farms in Indonesia and Vietnam)

The whole flying-is-evil thing had me feeling kinda guilty, even though I could not see a way around having to…fly.

sustainable, lighter, pillow, packagin

Lighter ‘pillow’ boxes from now on.

However I can act to reduce the total Pearlescence air miles/aviation fuel impact by reducing the weight of our packaging. Which I have now done. We have switched from recyclable cardboard boxes – very, very nice boxes. But substantial and with a certain weightiness. To light card pillow boxes. We still add our unique printed ribbon so there is a certain something to untying the bow and opening the box but the total weight of every shipment of finished jewellery will be reduced by two thirds. Over a year I reckon that is more than enough to allow me to travel to buy new pearls and metal.

Especially when you consider that even much of our domestic shipping is now moved by air. Pillow boxes also save on shipping from where they are manufactured to the wholesaler, which in our case is in Ireland (so there’s another aviation saving when they are shipped to us) warehouse and our premises space is also massively saved.

opened pillow box

opened pillow box

Also, because every one of our packages of finished pieces will be smaller and lighter we will save overall on shipping costs for every single item we ship to you, where ever you are in the world. If that is indeed overseas, well, that’s doing a joint little bit to save the planet.

An added bonus for the majority of our customers is that this new packaging removes residual guilt about throwing away a box. It’s fully cardboard so pull off the ribbon (which can find a new use I’m sure) and throw it into the recycle bin with a clear conscience. We’ll  be including a chiffon sleeper bag so you can still have something – in fact a better thing – to keep your pearls in.

Since I am being totally transparent here, switching to pillows will also save us money, money which we can swing back to you all by not having to increase prices due to the collapse in value of the £ sterling over the last couple of years and the increases in shipping costs

Sustainability is something we all have to strive for. With this move to sustainable packaging if you feel that you absolutely must have an older style presentation box they will be available for a small extra charge to cover the extra cost of the box, the larger wrapping and the increased shipping cost.