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June 2016 Pearl Buying Trip [Day 1]

Hong Kong international gem and jewellery show

After a quick 16hr flight I landed in Hong Kong. My wife Alana (and usual photographer for these trips) wasn't able to make it, which leaves me pulling double duty. Buying, photographing and blogging will be all done by me this trip. I'm sure she'll be sending me an email soon with a list of typos or edits I need to make!

As usual on opening day of these gem shows, it's a total mad house. After standing in line for close to an hour, clearing security and finding my way to the pearl hall, I was elbow to elbow with hungry pearl buyers from all over the world. 

packed akoya pearl section

My usual goal for the first day of these trips is to spend as much time walking the floor meeting with friends, checking prices and getting a feel for what's happening in the pearl market.

insane golden south sea pearl strands
golden, white and black South Sea necklaces
crazy expensive south sea pearls
deep golden south sea pearls

Incredible Akoya Pearls

While walking the outside perimeter I walked by a small Japanese run booth with a strange "grading report". I'm not sure exactly what this report says, but the strands they had on display were breathtaking! It's hard to capture the level of luster on these strands, but lets say even Mikimoto would be jealous! The only downside being the price, an 18" strand of their top grade 8.5-9.0mm Akoyas would likely retail for around $30,000. The Japanese man who ran the booth was very nice to talk to and clearly very proud of his work. He's offered to sit down with me later in the show and talk a little bit more about how he processes his pearls, so if time allows I may take him up on that.

pearl grading report?
mikimoto quality akoya pearls
better than hanadama akoya pearls?

Ombre Color Graduated Pearls

The term ombre refers to a gradual blending of one shade or color into another. And if what I saw today is any indication, the ombre trend is alive and well.

Beautiful long ropes of South Sea and Tahitian pearls, stunning Tahitian to Akoya ombre pieces and even a few incredible Freshwater Edison strands. If you've never sat down to match a pearl necklace from loose pearls, it's hard to appreciate the amount of work(and pearls) that goes into the process. I assure you, making pieces like this takes some serious patience and skill!

golden, white black ombre necklace
ombre south sea necklace
ombre color graduated strands
cool lariat style ombre strand
akoya and Tahitian pearl ombre ropeombre earringsombre freshwater edison pearl necklace
ombre purple to peach freshwater necklace   

Edison pearls

Even casual fans of my blog know I've got a thing for "Edison" pearls, particularly the rare and fancy colors. Not wasting any time,  I sat down and poured over a few thousand top grade loose pearls, ultimately selecting just a few incredible pearls. 

The process works like this:

 I start by pouring a large "lot" of pearls into a sorting tray and make an initial selection of anything with interesting color and high luster.

pile of top grade Edison pearls
purple edison pearls

I'll cull any pearls that have obvious flaws and imperfections. In this step around 50% of the pearls will be quickly rejected. This is the most painful step, as so many pearls will have incredible color and/or luster, but also contain a fatal flaw. I'll find myself muttering "if only you didn't have that blemish, you'd be PERFECT!".  The rule here is the pearl is allowed only one significant blemish, which if in the right location can be used as the drill hole. Effectively hiding the imperfection once the pearl is set as jewelry.

handful of beautiful purple freshwater pearls

I'll spend several minutes getting to know each pearl. Gently rolling the pearl around in my fingers, getting a feel for the various colors and overtones that appear as I examine the pearl from different angles. I'm also looking for any minor blemishing that I might have missed in the previous step. Finally once I've become fully acquainted with the pearl, I'll follow my gut and either take it home or release it back into the wild.

selecting edison pearls
freshwater edison pearls
stunning metallic edison pearls 

"Holy Grail" Ripples

What can I say about these pearls that I haven't said before. They're HUGE(13-17mm), they're super colorful, and they have intense metallic luster. They're also incredibly hard to photograph under the trade show lights. At least for me(my wife Alana seems to have a knack for capturing their true beauty).

Well that's my report for day one of the trip. If you enjoyed the pics, please leave a comment and let me know! It's always fun to read your feedback, it keeps me going on these crazy trips.

Oh and if you're not following me on Facebook, go over there now and like my page. I'll be sharing extra pics and videos you won't see anywhere else.

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