Tag Archives: ripple pearls

Last day in Hong Kong

Well here it is, last day. The time has passed so quickly, but now the show is closed`and there are no more pearls to be bought by me before the early morning flight and the alarm clock is set. Today was a gentle browsing day. I found some baroque bouldery little pearls which will make great earrings to go with the Spica Vietnamese grey big colour strands

akoya pearls

Bouldery baroques from Vietnam

The colours are intense and amazing – so powerful for such tiny little pearls

Then I came across some cutest baby ripples with strong colours at a bargain price. Couldn’t resist

ripple pearls

very strongly coloured baby ripples

These pearls came from the same stable as the finest Edison pearls – bead nucleated pearls – with strands costing many £kkkk. Felt smug that,because the firm did not manage its second harvest in March (due apparently to local government actions – it’s the same the world over) there were no more of the vibrant deep pinks as per my present to myself. Closest was this deep purple-ish strand – very expensive – but, like most purples, not metallic and the purple was grubbied with a brown cast. All pinks to purples are prone to drop to beige brown.

Purple Edison strand

Purple Edison strand

Finally I had a play with a lot of button-ish metallics. These will be stunning set on rings




Bye-bye Hong Kong for this year. It’s been a wonderful trip with good friends, great food and fabulous pearls.

Day Two…..Phew……lots of pearls

A great day.Spent the whole day at my favourite supplier and we’ve made some serious inroads into the big ‘wants’ list.Lots of pearls.

9.30 in the morning. I’m already seated at the big table, and there are some huge dark ripples spread out before me. Life is good!


one ming and a soft gold strand

In the end I selected a beautiful AAA metallic strand of bead nucleated pearls, a strand of really big soft gold white ripples and a strand of huge dark ripples.

Next were bead nucleated singles. various sizes and I’ve got a collection of the most stunning colours with the most intensely metallic lustre you could ever want

Stunning drops

Stunning drops


Then I was shown some of the latest harvest of Ming bead nucleated pearls. Phew. Up to 17mm, pretty much clean with only faint blemishing and metallic lustre and rich colour. I couldn’t decide which to select (all three?) so asked Twitter. Within a few minutes my mobile was throwing out replies! Each strand had votes. Watch this space to see what I decided.

Thee huge dark bead nucleated strands with metallic lustre

Thee huge dark bead nucleated strands with metallic lustre


Moving right along, How do 13mm and 14mm white metallic drops sound to you?

White metallic drops

White metallic drops


Finally I was given the first showing of some totally new pearls. They are small, 5mm to about 9mm, but with intense colours and mirror metallic lustre. Anyone have any idea what these little beauties are

Mystery new pearls

Mystery new pearls

I resisted the impulse to immediately buy every one and found nine pairs – mostly smaller sizes, for earrings and some singles which will be set onto rings. No-one yet has got what they are!

Being dutiful I tried to move on to black drops but when I spread them out  I glanced at the clock…nearly 6pm! No wonder I was all pearled out for the day!

More tomorrow



Bead nucleated pearls and tissue nucleated pearls.

There are two basic types of farmed pearls: bead nucleated and tissue nucleated. (The other main type classification is between cultured or farmed and natural or wild pearls)

Nucleation is the process which starts off the growth of a cultured or farmed pearl. It involves inserting something into a nacre-producing mollusc to trigger production of a pearl. This nucleus can be either just a tiny sliver of mantle tissue on its own or a sliver of mantle tissue plus a bead or other shaped foundation. In either case a nacre secreting pearl sac grows and a pearl is made within that sac.

Bead nucleated pearls include all tahitian and south sea pearls, akoya pearls and many modern big freshwater pearls (brands Edison and Ming) as well as fancy shapes such as coins or hearts.

Tissue nucleated pearls are mostly all freshwater pearls which are therefore all nacre, solid pearl. no bead inside. (Chinese and Biwa freshwaterpearls)

Keishi pearls are an exception. They are the pearls formed inside a usually pre-existing pearl sac from which a pearl has been removed (think of how a balloon looks when the air seeps out over time and you get the idea of a keishi pearl.

oyster diagram

Archetypical shellfish
1 Shell
2 area of mantle tissue from which donor tissue is taken
3 mantle
4 gonad
blobs pearl nucleation placements

Mantle tissue is used because that is the area of tissue which specifically secretes nacre. It’s usually there to make the mollusc’s shell but will produce nacre wherever it is – a talent utilised by the pearl farmer.

Placement of the nucleus varies as well. Beads are placed in the sex organ – the gonad – of the mollusc and only one per mollusc. (You might think that this would stop the mollusc from wanting to reproduce but there is some research which indicates it make them more not less active!)

Tissue nucleated pearl grafts can be many to a mollusc and are placed in the mantle.

The new big thing (last three or so years only) in pearls are the big freshwater bead nucleated pearls from China. These are branded as Edison pearls or Ming pearls or are described as ripple pearls. They are big – up to 17mm, round or symmetrically baroque (because of the bead inside), have a lustre ranging from metallic to gloriously satiny, and a smooth to convoluted or rippled. They come in a range of natural colours from white to pink, purple, peach, gold, with greens and blues. (you can see our ripple pearls here and we have smooth surfaced Edison and generic bead nucleated pearls throughout the freshwater section ..here is one beautiful example of a bead nucleated Edison pearl necklace









Ripple Pearls Get Their Own Section in the Website

It isn’t really very earth shattering news, but we’ve made it easier for pearl lovers to find the gorgeous ripple pearls on the Pearlescence Website (here) .

Nerida Harris of Australian pearl trade supplier Pearl Perfection and I spotted the first of the ripple pearls to appear on a vendor’s stand at the Hong Kong Gem show in September 2010. There was one hank, buried under many other white pearls and the rage of the time, souffle pearls (whatever happened to them?) Just the one hank of eight strands of these huge, rippled surfaced pearls of obviously natural colours which looked as if they had had gold leaf appiled to parts of their surface.

ripple pearls

Classic ripple pearls – pink, lavender, blues, and the gorgeous gold leaf overlay effect

Nerida took four and I took four.I can remember we looked at eachother and said ‘oooh’ They sold within a few days of going on our websites.

We got more next time we were each in Hong Kong. I found some huge white ones which I only realised when I got home and looked again at them looked remarkably like white south sea pearls

white ripple pearls

White ripple pearls. Some have the same satin lustre as south sea pearls for a fraction of the price.

Rpple pearls have proved so popular now that I decided that they need to be easier to find on the website and merit their own section – so it is here

The pearls are bead nucleated and are usually between 10mm and 16mm in size.

There are lots of places on the ripple bandwagon now – and when I was in Hong Kong last September they were certainly more plentiful. But there were an awful lot of really second rate pearls around, with poor colour and massive blemishing. Just not good enough for Pearlescence. The sort of pearls which end up on eBay or with sellers who don’t go to Hong Kong or mainland China to select each and every strand themself.