Monday, December 03, 2007

World is their oyster for pearl divers


By Marten Youssef, Staff Reporter
Published: December 01, 2007, 01:14

Abu Dhabi: Over the years thousands of people dived into the shallow depths of the Arabian Gulf searching for a treasure tucked away in the rugged shells of oysters.

Divers lived in dire conditions and risked their lives for the slight chance of a fortune being discovered in this tiny creature.

Pearls have been a symbol of wealth for centuries.

No region has produced more natural pearls than the Gulf.

"The oldest known natural pearl was found here in the Gulf and archaeologists say it is 7,000 years old," said Abdullah Al Muaini, head of the gemstone unit at the Dubai Central Laboratory.

The warm, shallow waters of the Gulf produced some of the world's most sought-after natural pearls.

"Our pearls were sold to Europeans and Asians until the 1960s when oil was discovered and Japan began to harvest oysters, mass producing pearls that looked as natural as ours, but at a fraction of the price," Al Muaini said.

"Pearling was an incredible asset for our economy. So many people were reliant on pearldiving for their livelihoods," he said.

Stories about pearldiving became legends, part of the folklore; books were written about the dedication to pearling. "All that withered away and the chapter was closed for what many people thought was definite," Al Muaini said.

Gay Gahan, a pearl and jewellery enthusiast and collector dedicated to reviving the pearl industry, said the unique thing about the pearl is that it takes as long as nine years to form.

"Your average buyer doesn't know these things and can't tell the difference between a pearl from Tahiti or a pearl from China," said Gahan.

The process of making a pearl has changed drastically since companies have figured out a way to manipulate the oyster either genetically or physically.


"Long before techniques were discovered to produce a round pearl, the oyster yielded all kinds of shapes. You inserted a tiny ball into the shell of the oyster around which it wraps a material called nacre, creating the pearl."

He said today there are hardly any natural pearls. "What we have today are cultured pearls. This is the process where a foreign body is encased by the oyster's nacre.

"That is often a thin coating and can take years for the oyster to produce. You cannot tell the depth of the nacre without an X-ray," said Gahan.

For the average consumer, the depth of the pearl is irrelevant. "It is the size that counts."

A group of jewellers, enthusiasts and collectors is now committed to bringing the shine back to the pearl industry.

Nobody probably knows more about pearling and the pearl industry than Khalid Al Sayegh. Born into a family of jewellers, Al Sayegh inherited the passion for pearls when he was just 13.

"When I was very young, I visited the late Shaikh Zayed several times to present him with some of the finest pearls. He would marvel at them. I remember him asking lots of questions and he became quite passionate about the pearling industry. Today, we are helping to fulfil the legacy he started," Al Sayegh said.

At 34, Al Sayegh is a founder of the International Pearl Revival Committee.

He financed the first International Pearl Seminar and Summit last month.

The four-day event in Abu Dhabi included delegations of world-renowned jewellers, gemologists, marine biologists, historians, educators and enthusiasts.

"Before we can speak to the public about pearls we needed to think together with the brightest minds about the future of pearling and the industry. We need to work together. I believe we must walk before we can run and this is only the first of many conferences to come," Al Sayegh said.

The delegates were flown to an island in the Gulf to get a glimpse and to reignite the image of pearling as it once was. This visit took the delegates to the island of Delma, 200 kilometres northwest of Abu Dhabi, to the pearl museum and the harbour where dhows ventured out to look for pearls.

"It's mind-boggling to imagine that people made fortunes on these shores," said Daniele Naveau, Managing Director of the Robert Wan Tahiti Jewellery, as she watched a dhow coming into te Delma Harbour.

The controversy over natural versus cultured pearls, and the layman's inability to distinguish between them is what motivates Naveau to pursue a standardisation system in which pearls would be graded, certified and valuated.

Genetic modifications

"The challenge with that is that you have China, which is able to produce thousands of pearls at such a fast rate. It usually takes us years to harvest our pearls whereas in China they have somehow been able to make as much 70 pearls from one oyster.

"They have clearly genetically modified the oysters to be able to change the colours and shapes of the pearls as well. And there is no international framework to guide them so they can really keep on doing what they want to do and that is hurting the industry and the culture of pearls," Naveau said.

Her company is on a small island off the coast of Tahiti.

"What makes Tahitian pearls so sought-after is that the conditions in which they are cultured allow the oysters to produce the most beautiful round shapes with incredibly deep colours," Naveau said.

One man who believes that the UAE has an industry for natural pearls is archaeologist Fat'hi Abdullah. Born and raised in Egypt, Abdullah has worked in Iraq and Syria. He came to Delma in 1993 and since then he has been dedicated to reviving thepearling industry.

"It is not a question of if it will be revived, it's a question of when," Abdullah said.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Pearl industry expected to grow into a $3bn industry by 2010

The global pearl industry is expected to grow into a $3bn industry by 2010, according to the first industry report on Pearl industry, which was released in Abu Dhabi

Currently, the global pearl farming is a $1.5-bn industry. In value terms, more than 50 per cent of this trade is composed of black pearls. The report was released by International Pearl Revival Committee during their first international pearl convention. The findings of the report were revealed in presence of Industry stalwarts and luminaries by Chairman of the Pearl Revival Committee Khaled Al Sayegh. 'Various socio-economic and political forces are driving the pace of change in the natural pearl industry. The report indicates that in the future, the world wide Pearl industry will see sluggish growth of pearl jewellery sales and also an emergence of new markets,' Khaled said during his speech. The study gives insight on the current size and scale of the value chain, identifying trends that will have an impact on the future, predicting the likely state of the industry by 2010, recommending initiatives, and developing a roadmap for various players given the expected changes in the environment.

Market for pearls
According to the statistics given in the report, recent changes in seawater pearl production have been quite phenomenal. Production volumes of South Sea pearls (SSPs) from the white-lipped pearl oyster Pinctada maxima, were forecast to exceed 2,400 kan, a Japanese unit of mass (or nine tonnes) during 2006. This is a record. It is a stunning 2.6 times more than just six years ago. In spite of this tremendous increase in weight, the value only increased from $217 m in 1999 to an estimated $248m in 2005. This is an increase of only 14 per cent. In terms of Japanese yen, the values remain unchanged at 26bn. As on date, cultured South Sea pearls account for only one per cent of global production of pearls. In terms of value, Australia is the leader, with a market share of almost 50 per cent. Australian pearls are also on top when we talk quality and size and, consequently, unit price. Indonesia comes first when we talk about the number of oysters operated, the number of pearls produced, and their weight, which exceeds this year the 1,000 kan mark. The white SSP, in the context of the total seawater pearl production, has further expanded its 'market share' and stands now at almost 50 per cent. In spite of the tremendous increase in the production weight of white SSPs, the global seawater pearl market has not expanded in value during the past six years. It hovers around the $500m mark.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

sheikha mai opens first international pearl convention


1. Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, Assistant Under-secretary for the Sector of Culture and Heritage in Bahrain’s Ministry of Information, opens first international Pearl Convention in Abu Dhabi on Monday. (pic attached as sheikha Mai)
2. Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, Assistant Under-secretary for the Sector of Culture and Heritage in Bahrain’s Ministry of Information, Khaled Al Sayegh, Chairman of International Pearl Revival Committee, Dr. Gaitone Cavalieri, president of CIBJO at the opening ceremony of first international pearl convention. ((pic attached as IPC opening)
Abu Dhbai, November 19, 2007 - HH Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, Assistant Under-secretary for the Sector of Culture and Heritage in Bahrain’s Ministry of Information, has opened the first International Pearl convention, the in Abu Dhabi on Monday. Convention expected to bridge yesterday’s tradition with tomorrows market needs corresponding to the changing fashion needs of new generation. “The convention will indeed lay the foundation for a remarkable and unique revival that gives us back our wonderful history within the pearl industry,” said Shaikha Mai, during her opening speech. “Currently, the global pearl farming is a $1.5-billion industry. In value terms, more than 50 per cent of this trade is composed of black pearls. Revival of the pearl industry is expected to boost the region's economy as a whole, which is now trying to tap more from non-oil industry,” she added.During his speech, Chairman of the Internatianal Pearl Revivival committee, Khaled Al Sayegh, said, “Though pearling has been an important economic activity in the Gulf region since ancient times, and pearling flourusihed from the latter half of the 19th century to the early decades of the 20th century, the discovery of oil and the invention of cultured pearls seemingly has put an end to the old days. But there is a purposeful effort to reestablish the pearling industry in the UAE. With this end in view, we have decided to host the First International Pearl Convention.”
Speakers at the four day long convention include Dr. Gaitone Cavalieri has now served as president of CIBJO for more than five years, Kenneth Scarratt Director of research for GIA Research Thailand and has 30 years of experience as a laboratory gemologist, Elisabeth Strack, from Gemmologisches Institut Hamburg, Germany, Stephen J. Kennedy Gemologist of the Gem Testing Laboratory of Great Britain. Worked and researched a lot in pearl treatment in past years, Nicholas Sturman gemological advisor of the Gem & Pearl Testing Laboratory, Manama, Bahrain, with experience more than 15 years in pearl testing, Shigeru Akamatsu General Manager, Sales Promotion Department, Mikimoto and Sutas Singbamorong Gem specialist Dubai central laboratory with experience more than 10 years in gemology had a lot of researches in gemstone and pearl.
"Historically, the world's best pearls came from the Gulf. They were naturally created and collected by breath-holding divers. The discovery of large deposits of oil put an abrupt end to pearl industry in early 1930's. Those who once fished pearls sought prosperity in the economic boom ushered in by the oil industry," said Abdulla Abdelqadir Al Muaini, head of Dubai Gemstone Lab Dubai Central Laboratory and officer on special duty, IPC & chairman of the organizing committee for seminars and summit.
"This initiative marks the re-initiation of our native trade which is also very close to our cultural heritage. In this region, pearl diving was the chief means of earning a livelihood, in the early 20th century. The seas surrounding the UAE were home to some of the best-known natural pearls, and local pearl divers made a decent living diving for pearls. We see great economic growth through the revival of the pearl industry via the global recognition of its point of origination," he concluded.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Majorica Pearls (Imitation Pearls)


Majorica Pearls are imitation pearls made using a secret formula and not to be confused with cultured pearls or South Sea Pearls produced in pearl farms by the Pinctada Maxima oyster.

As the old saying goes "Imitation is the most sincere flattery" and there is no doubt these manufactured pearls are popular because they closely imitate the beauty of natural pearls.
Large quantities of these "pearls" are produced by a factory in Spain using a closely guarded secret formula originally developed by a German immigrant Eduardo Hugo Heusch in the 1890's. A strict quality control system has enabled these jewels to become recognised as the best imitation or faux pearls on the market
Over the centuries many people have tried to duplicate the beauty of natural pearls. Many use a substance called “essence d’orient" or "pearlessence" made with quanine crystals that reflect different wavelengths of light and give fish their natural refflective colours. By coating glass or plastic beads with variations of this substance pearl-like products are created for the cosmetic jewel market.
Natural pearls are produced by mollusks such as snails, whelks and conchs and bivalves (mussels, clams, oysters), both in fresh water and salt water. When an irritant such as a grain of sand lodges in these animals, they cover it with a protective coating to reduce the irritation, forming a pearl.
Pearl farming in the Northern Territory uses natural oysters to produce some of the finest pearls in the world
When you are shopping for jewellery be careful that the items you buy are correctly labeled. While many manmade jewels are quite pretty, they do not achieve the same monetary value of natural jewels such as diamonds, opals or pearls.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Paspaley unveils its latest style sensations in jewellery


Paspaley, the pearling pioneer unveils its latest style sensations for the season with a spread of tantalizing jewellery creations featuring South Sea pearls, diamonds, rubies, 18k white and yellow gold in necklaces, pendant chains, drop earrings and stud earrings.

Offered in 4 sets combining neck pieces with earrings, each of these jewels stands out for the bewitching craftsmanship and finish for which Paspaley is now recognized the world over. And these creations are designed to perk up both the wearer and the viewer on a dark and chilly autumn day, blending the moonlight glow of South Sea pearls with the sparkle of diamonds and the deep blush of rubies. What's more, these jewels are perfect for an evening out in town or even as daytime wear for the daring amongst us.
"Paspaley once more regales its fans with a stunning display of its fabulous artistry. These one off pieces are sure to find instant admirers in the region due to their remarkable design, craftsmanship and finish. They strike a perfect balance between minimalism and traditional pieces which are generally heavy, to appeal to women of all ages,"said Mr. Tawhid Abdullah, Managing Director, Damas. The first delectable offering features luscious, golden South Sea pearls, strung at intervals on a slender, rigid chain studded with a neat row of tiny white diamonds and interspersed with yellow diamonds arranged in triangles. This chain in turn holds up, trophy-like, its bounty of priceless South Sea pearls of various sizes, arranged to form a pendant. It's a piece that will enhance the glow of its wearer's face and light up a thousand smiles on the way. Match it with drop-earrings that go perfectly to create a stunning look. The next creation is pristine in all its glory, stringing a slim and rigid white gold sphere encrusted with white diamonds, interspersed with pretty, pear-shaped rubies and diamonds that form flowers and buds at six points, before diving down into a triangle holding one awesome South Sea pearl. The sharp white of the gold and the brilliance of the diamonds provide a startling contrast to the deep pink of the rubies, which is further softened by the allure and luster of the pearl. What sets apart a Paspaley creation is its execution of design, perfect proportion and choice of the finest precious material which endows it with a halo of purity that's tangible. This is what makes this pearl enterprise a jeweller that's counted among the front ranking jewelers of the world today. The avian world is the source of inspiration for its next creation, where cherubic white South Sea pearls, sport fronds of white gold richly paved with white and yellow diamonds, to first become an extravagant stud earring and later a two-pearl pendant strung on a chain of white gold. The next two jewels include two spherical yellow gold pendant chains whose outer perimeters are lined with tiny white diamonds and rubies, with one single perfectly round South Sea pearl in the centre. Simple but avant garde, both are jewels which are sure to be embraced by the discerning jewellery lover. As a company whose world revolves around the fabulous South Sea pearl, Paspaley glows with the luster of a reputation for extraordinary standards of excellence in both enterprise and product, much akin to its bewitching merchandise from the sea. To select a jewel bearing its fabled name is to rejoice in one of life's magical moments. Paspaley's latest creations are now available at its exclusive boutiques in Dubai.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Debunking a Widely Held Japanese Myth


by C. Denis George Abstract by Anna Kerrigan

Historical Aspects on the Early Discovery of the Pearl Cultivating Technique

Japanese scientists, Nishikawa and Mise are typically recognized for discovering the technology that led to cultivating spherical pearls. C. Denis George was an Australian enthusiast who challenged the credit given to the Japanese for this discovery. George argues that Nishikawa and Mise's step-father were first exposed to successful pearl cultivation at Thursday Island under the guidance of William Saville-Kent, a British expatriate living in Australia. In his article, "Debunking a Widely Held Japanese Myth: Historical Aspects on the Early Discovery of the Pearl Cultivating Technique," George campaigns for William Saville-Kent to receive proper respect for pioneering fundamental pearl culturing techniques. By using texts and personal experience as evidence, George places Nishikawa and Mise's step-father in Australia during Kent's pearl operations on Thursday Island. This trip to Australia predates Nishikawa and Mise's application for patent. Furthermore, George cites Japanese reluctance to acknowledge Saville-Kent's pearl research in text and conversation as evidence of deception.

The evidence C. Denis George presents convincingly argues that Saville-Kent shared his bead and tissue-piece technique with the two Japanese, they went back to Japan, repeated the technique in akoya mollusks and claimed it as their own. Several of George's key points are:

  • Nishikawa felt the need to predate his pearl discoveries eight years to mask the information he probably gleaned while in Australia in 1900.
  • George highlights the unlikelihood that two Japanese scientists simultaneously discovered the technology that would produce cultured pearls. He notes that even the Japanese are not quite sure which of their pioneers (Mise or Nishikawa) truly discovered the pearl culturing technique. George deduces that the uncertainty of ownership stems from both of them becoming privy to "intimate information from someone else who was familiar with the subject of pearls."
  • George also practiced pearl cultivation techniques independent of Japanese research. He conducted his tests in Australia near Thursday Island. When George was asked to attend a pearl symposium in Japan, he presented his findings in detail, and his pearls were examined and accepted by the board. However, when he revealed that he believed pearls to have originated in Australia under the guidance of William Saville-Kent, George says that friendly discussion ceased and silence prevailed. George believes that the Japanese have intentionally neglected to respect early Australian pearling techniques and that their indifferent and cold response to his mention is evidence of the ongoing misconception that pearl techniques originated in Japan.

C. Denis George spent years encouraging others to give Saville-Kent the recognition and respect he deserves. George has written numerous reports, established "The William Saville-Kent Memorial Pearl Museum," and even named his pearling boat after him: "TSMV WILLIAM SAVILLE-KENT." George concludes his article by appealing for proper respect and honor to be bestowed upon William Saville-Kent and his groundbreaking pearl experiments.

To read the full story download this PDF, compliments of Pearl World: The International Pearling Journal.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Healing powers of oysters could mend human bones


By Alex Duval Smith in Paris

Published: 30 October 2007

After at least 530 million years of clamming up, the oyster has revealed its secret curative properties to mankind. And they are not only aphrodisiac.

French biologists who have been studying the way oysters produce nacre, also known as mother-of-pearl, believe the process could be replicated to provide cures and preventative treatments for osteoporosis, arthritis and certain skin complaints.

"The key is biomineralisation," said Christian Milet at the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris. "Humans and oysters share the capacity for self repair. A human bone heals, as does a cracked oyster's shell. We now believe nacre can be used to stimulate bone growth."

Biomineralisation is as old as bivalve molluscs, which gives it quite a few million years on the human species. More than 4,000 years ago, the Maya people of central America realised that nacre was not only beautiful but extremely hard and durable. They used it to make false teeth. In other cultures, including ancient Chinese and Egyptian, paste made from crushed nacre was recommended as a beauty cream.

The aphrodisiac quality of oysters has been recognised for many years but never scientifically proven. However, the mollusc's high content of zinc, which in humans is required for the production of testosterone, could be one explanation. Other research has shown that the shellfish are rich in certain amino acids that trigger increased levels of sex hormones.

For the biomineralisation process to work there does not need to be an "R" in the month. But scientists already know that some oysters are better at it than others. Those we eat, and which do not produce pearls, are the least scientifically interesting.

The oysters that produce the largest quantities of nacre are those, such as the Pinctada oyster, which also produce pearls. This is because natural pearls are formed when an oyster, while taking a gulp of water containing plankton, inadvertently swallows a piece of grit. To avoid the discomfort of sharing its shell with a nasty, jagged foreign object, the mollusc envelops it with smooth nacre: the pearl.

News of the French biologists' progress in understanding nacre-making emerged with the opening of an exhibition, Perles, une histoire naturelle, at the natural history museum in Paris. Apart from showing some of the biggest pearls ever found – including a 171-gram seawater pearl – the exhibition provides a rare opportunity to view a globe made by the jeweller Mikimoto on which the oceans are represented by 12,000 cultured pearls, the continents are made of gold and the equator is drawn with 377 rubies.

But Mr Milet's discovery is not going appear in the world's hospitals immediately. "We have already carried out in vivo bone graft tests in which we have obtained a perfect bond between the nacre and the bone. The medical uses of the biomineralisation will be seen some years into the future," he said. "We have already asserted that not only can nacre be grafted on to bone and be accepted by the human body, it also releases active molecules which induce bone regeneration."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Antoinette's Necklace and's Popularity Proof of Timelessness of Pearls


Fine jewelry, like that offered through, offers consumers a timeless heirloom. Recent jewelry auctions like that of pearls once owned by Marie Antoinette show just how lasting pearls are.

San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) October 23, 2007 -- Fine jewelry, like that offered through, offers consumers a timeless heirloom. Recent jewelry auctions like that of pearls once owned by Marie Antoinette show just how lasting pearls are.
She was known for her extravagance, and despite the fact that 200 years have passed since France's last Queen was executed by guillotine, Marie Antoinette still fascinates many around the world. Now, a set of Marie Antoinette's pearls, which were made into a necklace in 1849, are slated to be auctioned at Christie's of London in December.
Helvetica, sans-serif; TEXT-DECORATION: none" href="" alt="Link to website">Pearls are the perfect accessory whether a woman is wearing an elegant evening gown or casual work attire. You simply cannot go wrong with pearl jewelry. It's a story of which legends are made. Marie Antoinette, who gave her British friend Lady Sutherland the pearls for safekeeping, had hoped to one day be reunited with her prized jewels. Instead, only a short year later, she was executed. The pearls have remained in the Sutherland family for more than 200 years, spending recent years tucked away in a safe at a bank, until a family member decided to put the necklace up for auction.
Many historians hope that Marie Antoinette's pearls, which are expected to garner as much as $800,000, will be won at auction by a museum, like the Louvre in Paris, so that the public can have access to the timeless piece of jewelry.
The excitement surrounding the upcoming auction serves as a testament to the timelessness of pearls, according to Yan Berry, the founder and creative director of, a leading online retailer of unique pearl jewelry that counts such Hollywood celebrities as Tamara Braun and Fergie among its clientele.
"For centuries, pearls have been the jewel of choice for women," Berry says. "Pearls are the perfect accessory whether a woman is wearing an elegant evening gown or casual work attire. You simply cannot go wrong with pearl jewelry."
Berry recommends that women, who want to go for a more casual look, choose such classic pearl jewelry as a single strand white choker or a princess length pearl necklace. Those women who want to accessorize their evening wear with pearls, on the other hand, might opt for exotic black Tahitian or golden South Sea pearl jewelry.
It is that appreciation and knowledge of the timelessness of pearls that has inspired Berry to design the unique pearl jewelry sold at Berry's jewelry features white, naturally black, pink, and golden pearls.
"'s aim is to provide women with stunning, uniquely designed pearl jewelry that they can pass down from generation to generation like the Sutherlands passed down Marie Antoinette's pearls from generation to generation," Berry says.
To learn more or about Berry's pearl jewelry, please visit

Monday, October 08, 2007

Pearls on Actress Fergie, Fantastic


A custom-made golden South Sea necklaces by looks perfect on actress Fergie.

(PRWEB) October 8, 2007 --, a San Francisco-based online pearl jewelry site, custom-made an extraordinary pearl necklace for the actress and singer Fergie in June 2007. The necklace is made of three flawless round 9-11mm Golden South Sea pearls, with a gold chain connected to each pearl. The draping of the pearls creates a glamorous and sexy look. It is perfect for Fergie.
Golden South Sea pearls, grown in Indonesia, are rare and exotic; a perfect pearl costs several hundred dollars, and the largest 15-17mm (about 2/3 the size of a quarter) can cost thousands. Yan Berry, founder and creative director of estimates that the necklace for Fergie costs about $2,000 in retail stores.
According to Berry, more Hollywood stars than ever are looking for beautiful and uniquely designed pieces of pearl jewelry. The most popular pieces are exotic large black Tahitian, and white and golden South Sea pearl jewelry. The Tahitian pearls are naturally black. The natural peacock, green, gray and blue undertones add character. Deep golden South Sea pearls are also naturally colored, and are stunning on people with darker skin tones.
Berry notes that choosing pearl jewelry is like choosing makeup; each piece needs to match the wearer's complexion and wardrobe.
For more information, please visit

Dubai, Hong Kong and China join hands for trade


Mr. Johnson Sin, President, Hong Kong Gemstone Manufacturers’ Association and Ms Gaiti Rabbani, Executive Director - Coloured Stones & Pearls, DMCC signing the MoU
Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Hong Kong Gemstone Manufacturers’ Association (HKGMA) to build industry-specific trade relations between Hong Kong, China and Dubai in the coloured stones and pearls sector.
Under the terms of this agreement, DMCC and HKGMA will design initiatives aimed at promoting the coloured stones and pearl trade through trade forums, exhibitions, seminars and jewellery events, including the Hong Kong Jewellery Fair.
This agreement will be overseen by DMCC’s Coloured Stones & Pearls Division that was created for the strategic development and promotion of Dubai as a hub for the global coloured stones and pearls trade, fostering relations with the international trade and developing industry services. Already established as a centre for gold and diamond jewellery, coloured stones and pearls represent the largest growth potential for the Dubai and Middle East market. Current DMCC projects under this division include the Dubai Gems Club, the Dubai Pearl Exchange and Pearls of Dubai, a joint-venture project.
Ms. Gaiti Rabbani, Executive Director – Coloured Stones & Pearls Division, DMCC, said: “Middle East, China, Hong Kong and Thailand are emerging economies with a strong trade in coloured stones and pearls. Together, the DMCC and HKGMA cover these important centres of gemstone production and consumption. Through this agreement with HKGMA, DMCC reinforces its commitment to the development of the trade. We are confident that this partnership will contribute significantly to the global jewellery, coloured stones and pearls industries.”
The MoU will also facilitate in sharing of local market knowledge and expertise, providing assistance in marketing joint initiatives, and continuously maintaining a dialogue of ideas towards the development of the gemstone trade.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Pearls Blast Off


The pearl market used to be cyclical. It looks as if the cycle has been replaced by a skyrocket.

By Gary Roskin, G.G., FGA, Senior Editor -- JCK-Jewelers Circular Keystone, 10/1/2007
Pearls have been selling strongly for several years, with more pearls and greater selection than ever before, and it doesn't look as if the boom will let up anytime soon. To paraphrase Armand Asher, if Iridesse can open 16 pearls-only stores, what are you waiting for?
Asher, of Albert Asher Pearls in New York, speaks well of Iridesse, Tiffany & Co.'s stand-alone pearl retailer. “If they're taking that kind of risk,” he said recently to an audience of retailers, “maybe now is the time for you to go for it.” If U.S. retailers do go for it, here's what they can expect in the coming year.

South Seas whites
Large, round, white South Seas bead-nucleated cultured pearls—the classics—come from Australia, Indonesia, and Burma, but Asher says the top qualities in anything 14 mm and up will most likely be Australian. Production continues to improve, so numbers should remain steady, and sizes could increase, says Aziz Basalely, of Eliko Pearl Co., New York. “There's a greater supply of larger rounds, 16 mm plus, in higher qualities,” Basalely notes.
Michael Bracher, manager of pearl distribution for Paspaley Pearls in Darwin, Australia, says his company's main focus is quality, and he notes that most Australian producers keep their oysters in the water long enough to produce top-quality pearls. Harvesting early can result in smaller sizes, thinner nacre, and a dull luster. Asher notes that chokers of top-quality large South Seas whites could range from $50,000 to $75,000 a strand wholesale.
Indonesian producers take a different tack. “The general supply from Indonesia has increased due to lesser regulation and governmental control of production,” says Basalely. “Consequently, the overall quality of Indonesian pearls tends to be more 'commercial' when compared to Australian production.” That's good news for U.S. retailers who are looking for more affordable pearls, but note that, besides being commercial quality, Indonesian pearls are usually smaller than 14 mm.

These bead-nucleated pearls, from Japan, China, and now Vietnam, are typically 7 to 9 mm. Demand for perfectly round, perfectly white specimens is still strong, and prices for top-quality akoyas are firm. Because of limited production in Japan, Japanese akoya is hard to come by.
Basalely notes that this year's production of pearls 7 mm or less was tight. Asher says production of larger pearls was even tighter. “The rare 9.5 to 10 mm akoyas—and these are only from Japan—are almost impossible to get,” he says, adding that top strands in this size range can cost upwards of $8—$10,000.
The supply of akoyas in the United States is limited, partly because of strong demand elsewhere. “In Japan, most of the pearl usage is akoya and South Seas black,” says Basalely. “At least 60 percent of the world's production of these is sold in Japan.”
Not all akoyas are from Japan, but most, if not all, are cleaned, bleached, drilled, set, and strung there, and will be labeled “Product of Japan.” Dealers stress that buyers should be more concerned about quality than locality. Chinese akoyas can be fine quality, but examine the goods. “Better quality is very limited,” says Basalely. The majority of the Chinese production ranges from 5 to 7 mm, sometimes 7.5 mm, rarely 8 mm.
Akoyas from Vietnam are in small supply at the moment, but quality is good. Vietnam is preparing to become a major force in the cultured pearls arena.

South Seas blacks
South Seas black pearls from the French Polynesian Islands are called Tahitian. Others are simply South Seas black pearls. These include the Cook Islands and Fiji. We also include Vietnam, where the farming possibilities look promising.
But despite demand, new farms, and willingness to pay, it's difficult to find top-quality South Seas black pearls in the United States, and it will soon get even more difficult to find large blacks. Martin Coeroli, general manager of Perles de Tahiti, sees not only an increased demand for larger pearls ranging from 13 mm and up but also one more increase. “I predict an increase in price in this category,” says Coeroli. Top Tahitian cultured pearls for 15 to 18 mm strands already are priced at $100,000. In 9 to 12 mm strands, $18—$20,000 is likely.
Instead, the U.S. market will probably see a lot of small pearls. “For a number of reasons,” says Andy Müller of Hinata Trading, Kobe, Japan. “They can make smaller sizes by harvesting after only 12 months.” This is less risky than trying to grow larger pearls with longer harvests. “To keep them in for 24 months or longer to get the bigger sizes means you need bigger oysters, which cost more. It's all about risk. It's just easier to go to smaller pearls.”
“Because of the price and availability of the commercial goods, especially circlé pearls, we will see more and more designs in this category,” says Coeroli. Peacock, though hard to find, remains the top color. The most popular variety, and still affordable in the United States, is dark green ranging from 9 to 15 mm. Expect to keep seeing multicolor strands, too.
The Cook Islands, Fiji, and Vietnam aren't producing enough to affect price and availability. The Cook Islands probably produce 10 percent of the French Polynesia output, notes Peter Bazar, of Imperial Deltah Pearls in East Providence, R.I., who has made several trips to the Cook Islands recently. Bazar estimates Tahitian production at approximately 5 million pearls a year. “If only 5 percent to 10 percent are fabulous, then that equates to 500,000 fabulous pearls,” he says. “Now if you're talking about the Cook Islands, well then you're talking about 500,000 pearls total production, and only 5,000 pearls that are really fabulous.”
Bazar continues, “What everyone should understand is that a fabulous pearl is rare. And that should be appreciated. The price of a fabulous pearl always stays high … and there are a lot of pearls that aren't as stunning.”

South Seas goldens
Indonesian and Philippine strands of golds can range from 14 to 12 mm, 16 to 13 mm, and 17 to 14 mm. These were quite rare just a few years ago. Apparently many dealers prefer Philippine golds over Australian and Indonesian golds. For smaller goldens, look to Burma, which produces pearls as small as 9 mm.

Chinese freshwaters
The Chinese are producing big and small sizes and various shapes including round. Round Chinese freshwater tissue-activated (no bead) cultured pearls have taken over the part of the market once dominated by small akoyas. Costs are substantially lower and selection huge for 5 mm and smaller rounds and off-rounds. The Chinese also are going after the large-round market. Rounds of 9 and 10 mm, scarce a few years ago, are readily available today. Rounds of 13 and 14 mm also are available, but at some cost to quality.
To obtain top-quality CFWCPs, buyers have to go to China and buy direct. “The supply has changed. The demand is high,” says Asher. “If you are at the farm immediately during the harvest, you find the better freshwaters. Prices don't drop, but you at least get the goods.”
To increase size, the Chinese have been working on spherical-bead-nucleated freshwater pearls. “Most of the production of these nucleated pearls tends to be baroque shape,” says Basalely. “For these pearls, 14 mm and above, the prices are extraordinarily high for freshwater, comparable to those of South Seas baroque pearls.”
In fact, Asher notes that while nice strands may be available at $1,500, single loose pearls can be as high as $1,000. Top-quality strands of 10, 11, and 12 mm perfectly rounds can go as high as $25,000.

American pearls
Supplies of U.S. top-quality (nonspherical fancy-shape bead-nucleated) freshwater pearls are still available, but competition from Chinese products is fierce. In the early 1990s, the Chinese realized they also could produce fancy shapes and created tons more product. Gina Latendresse, owner of American Pearl Co., Nashville, Tenn., says her company is not at the capacity it once was. “Our last commercial harvest was 89,000 pearls, and that was a small harvest,” she says.
Company founder John Latendresse mandated that 10 to 15 percent of every year's harvest be set aside for the future, and for 20 years the company has done so. “The one thing you can expect is the quality of the American pearl,” says Latendresse. American Pearl offers only natural colors in designer shapes, especially coins and bar shapes, with a minimum nacre thickness of 1.3 mm.

Going for Baroque
When size collided with price a few years ago, in came baroques, which made it possible to own larger pearls for less money, as long as consumers could appreciate baroques' unusual shapes. Consumers could, but baroques are in short supply. Improved cultivation techniques have increased the number of round pearls, reducing the supply of baroques, which are usually from a second- or even a third-generation growth from the same oyster.
“There is an especially strong demand for large baroque pearls, but the availability of 15 mm and up is low, and prices continue to rise,” says Aziz Basalely, of Eliko Pearl Co., New York. So although the actual value of a baroque pearl is lower than that of a round, demand for baroques has boosted their prices to nearly those of rounds of similar size. If you do go for baroque, think luster. “I love a fabulous baroque pearl,” says Peter Bazar, of Imperial Deltah Pearls, East Providence, R.I. “It's obviously all about luster and not shape.”
Armand Asher, of Albert Asher Pearls, New York, notes another option: “Many buyers are willing to go the route of slightly off-rounds, or what's called slightly pinched, such as buttons.”
Economic Reality of Top Quality
The continued weakening dollar matched against the euro and the yen creates healthy buying markets overseas, resulting in a scarcity of top-quality pearls in all categories in the U.S. market. In fact, more international buyers are coming to the United States than at any other time in recent history, trying to snatch up that bargain strand.
But a weak dollar doesn't mean the U.S. market doesn't have nice pearls. It just has fewer, and prices on those are very competitive. In top qualities, single pearls and mixed-origin strands are more available than full strands of the very best from one locality. “On top of that, the mass market of the U.S. likes to buy not the top 5 percent, but somewhere in the middle,” says Peter Bazar, of Imperial Deltah Pearls, East Providence, R.I. “Europeans have always bought the top-quality gems.” Bazar confirmed that while many Europeans look at gems as an investment, the majority of U.S. consumers look at price points.
“There's no question now that there's a shift in economics,” says Joel Schechter, chief executive officer of Honora, New York, specialists in Chinese freshwaters. “European markets are getting stronger. The change in the dollar obviously has a big impact on the exchange rates, and on the clientele.” And because of that, Schechter sees a large amount of fine goods ending up in Europe. “And a lot more medium goods being sold in the U.S.”
“People like Tara and Assael are still bringing in the finest in the world,” says Bazar. But it's usually Asian money that buys the multimillion-dollar strand of pearls. “Maybe some of the Europeans and some of the Asians recognize the value of pearls at the high end more than those in the U.S.”
Martin Coeroli, general manager of Perles de Tahiti, agrees. “The weak dollar is part of the reason.” Coeroli notes that the nouveaux riches from emerging markets like Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, are ready to spend more money for the finest goods. So you will also see their suppliers buying at the source. “International (mostly Japanese and Chinese) pearl wholesalers are buying directly from French Polynesia versus most American pearl dealers who are buying in Asia.”
Even then, the Asian market is tough. “More and more smaller European and Asian independent companies are attending auctions, and bidding only for the top quality,” says Coeroli. “It is becoming more difficult to get top goods because of the increasing competition among the buyers.”
But Bazar isn't worried. “The U.S. still is the biggest market in the world for pearls. We still have the wealth.”

Growing a Brand, Branding a Growth
Pearl wholesaler Honora has been on QVC home television shopping for 10 years and last year opened its first retail store, on 57th Street in New York. We asked CEO Joel Schechter how the company can maintain its independent retailer customer base and sell retail at the same time.
“TV to us is really not retail,” says Schechter. “We have one customer only—QVC. They buy it, they own it, and they stock it. It is really their retail business.”
Schechter acknowledges that retailers were upset the first year with Honora, but he says 10 years on QVC has elevated the Honora brand—to the benefit of retailers. “With all the hours we're on, with our logo up there, with me as company president up there being able to explain my company's position, it allows us to get our name out to the public,” he explains. “Now, after every QVC event, we see a spike in retail sales all over the country.”
He adds, “We have to keep the product separate and make sure that what gets sold on TV cannot be sold in retail stores, and vice versa.”
As for selling to the public at the 57th Street store, Schechter says the point isn't to generate revenue in retail sales. “We're looking to let consumers know who we are and know what we're doing,” he says. “And we hope what's going to happen is that they see it in our store, and then go back to places like Canton, Ohio, and buy it from their local retailer.”
Schechter says the New York store also assists the company in another way: “We get reaction from consumers, which helps us make decisions.” Honora can listen and learn what consumers want and translate that into wholesale products that get delivered to independent retailers carrying the Honora brand.
On the other side of the planet, an American is making history. Jeremy Shepherd, president of, with reportedly $20 million in sales last year, says he's the first American to own an akoya pearl farm in China.
The farm, located in Xuwen on the Leizhou Peninsula in Guangdong, is registered in China as Xuwen Jinhui Pearl Co. and Xuwen Pearl Paradise Farm. Xuwen Pearl Paradise is a Chinese-American joint venture for culturing and processing akoya pearls.
Three million nucleated shells are under cultivation in the farm's waters, and Shepherd expects the farm to yield between 1 million and 1.25 million usable pearls by winter 2008. The anticipated culture time of 10 to 15 months should yield an average nacre thickness exceeding 0.50 mm.

Do you know that freshwater leafage and mussels make pearls?


By Ram Chand Sahu

Bhopal, Oct.2 (ANI): Very few of us know about the many ways in which pearls are formed. If you want to know the answer, ask Vijayeta Rathore, a young scholar in applied aquaculture from Barkatullah University of Bhopal.
She has developed cultured designer pearls from freshwater leafage and mussels, the first-of-its-kind endeavour in Madhya Pradesh. .
Vijayeta, barely in her early twenties, says that the designer pearl culture is more bewitching but less expensive than cultured pearls normally available in the market.
She says: "If one takes up designer pearl production as a business, he or she will reap rich dividends because pearls market is second biggest after diamonds in the international market. If the designer pearls are of good quality, they will fetch good money."
She says: "These days in the market we have Chinese pearls, Japanese pearls and other types of pearls. These freshwater mussel designer pearls are no less in quality than the available pearls. Indeed, their rates are reasonable."
To make designer pearls, Vijayeta inserts beads with a punched shape of a deity or anything inside a freshwater mussel (that live on the bottom of rivers, irrigation canals and farm dams) collected from the River Vidisha.
The mussels carrying designer beads are then packed in netted bags, which are tied with a bamboo stick and the stick is left in a pond for 15 days.
After 15 days, the freshwater mussels are placed in the netted bags and sent for raft culture (resting in water for a few days) where the beads are gradually covered with nacre layer, Vijayeta explained.
Vijayeta makes flawless pearls as part of her study curriculum. She makes them in the shape of Lord Shiva, Buddha, Ganesha, the Holy Cross and others, shiny and bright with impeccable nacre (also known as mother-of-pearl).
She has plans to commence a large-scale designer pearl business soon.
Among all the students of the Applied Aquaculture Department of University, Vijayeta has conducted pearl culture experiments most successfully.
Dr. Susan Manohar, Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Aquaculture, of Barkatullah University, said: "We are making pearls in freshwater muscle. Generally, pearl oysters are found in marine water. Now scientists have found ways of pearl production in freshwater mussels. This is happening for the first time in Madhya Pradesh."
Manohar said: "The beads that stuck up with the shells are usually discarded but we are making designer pearls out of them. We give these pearls different shapes like Om, the Taj Mahal, Lord Buddha, Lord Shiva. These designer pearls can be worn as pendants with chains and in other forms of jewellery."
A Pearl is an organic gem, created when an oyster covers a foreign object with beautiful layers of nacre.
Earlier, thousands of oysters had to be searched to locate a pearl as such the pearls were rare and only the fortunate could manage one. Modern science, however, has enabled man to develop pearls through culture process.
In pearl culture, beads made of shell are placed inside a saltwater oyster or freshwater muscle, which is then returned to the water. The oyster covers the bead with layers of nacre and later the pearls are harvested. (ANI)
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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Marie Antoinette pearls on auction


In the year 1973, Marie Antoinette, the French Queen gave pearls to a British government for safe keeping and after she was imprisoned the pearl was for auctioned. If you did not know who is Maried Antoinette. She is remembered for her legendary and heroic act during the French Revolution in 1793 and was executed by guillotine for the crime of treason.

Marie Antoinette, the French Queen
On 1770, Marie Antoinette was conveyed to the Royal Palace and married The Dauphin" Louis XVII. Just before the wedding , Marie Antoinette presented with the beautiful jewels that belonging to a French dauphine. The collection included an elaborate diamond necklace which had belonged to Anne of Austria and jewelry pieces which had also belonged to Mary Queen of Scots and Catherine de' Medici. The large collection of gems was valued at approximately 2 million lives. The Dauphin and Marie Antoinette were married, with the bride wearing a dress decorated by large white hoops covered in diamonds and pearls .According to Christie's , owner of Christie's Jewellery in London.Based on circumstantial evidence that the real owner of this pearl was the French Queen not to the Lady of Sutherland, Elizabeth Leveson-Gower. It were reportedly given to Elizabeth Leveson-Gower, wife of the British ambassador to France during the French Revolution, and were intended to help the queen if she managed to flee the country. Lady Sutherland is also believed to have guided the Austrian-born queen, her husband King Louis XVI, and their family in a failed attempt to flee France in 1791.Marie Antoinette, pearls necklace was now on auctioned and made of rubies, diamonds and are expected to raise up to $800,000 when they are sold in December. It is to be auctioned on Dec. 12 with an estimated price of 350,000 to 400,000 pounds sterling (US$705,320 to 806,080 or 499,589 to 570,959 euro).

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sotheby's: Calvin, Kelly Klein to Sell Pearls, Diamonds from Duchess of Windsor

By Jeff Miller

RAPAPORT... Sotheby's New York will offer three lots of magnificent natural pearl and diamond jewels from the collection of Kelly and Calvin Klein on December 4. The auction house calls the offerings of historical importance as the Kleins purchased the pieces during a 1987 Sotheby's Geneva auction of jewels from the Duchess of Windsor collection.

Sotheby's describes the top offerings as a single-strand natural pearl and diamond necklace (est. $1.5 million to $2 million,) a natural pearl and diamond pendant (est. $400,000 to $600,000,) and a pair of black and white natural pearl and diamond earclips (est. $300,000 to $500,000.)

In the 20 years since the Windsor sale, few pieces from that incomparable collection have been re-offered at auction, and none as significant as the iconic natural pearls acquired by the Kleins. The pearls will be featured extensively worldwide in a pre-sale exhibition before the December sale. Duchess of Windsor

The necklace, pendant, and earclips will be offered as three lots in Sotheby’s December sale of Magnificent Jewels and carry a combined estimate of $2.2 million to $3.1 million.

In 1987 Calvin bought the natural pearl jewels from the Duchess of Windsor’s collection for Kelly, because of their extraordinary quality and provenance and classic style, Sotheby's stated. The Duchess of Windsor was often photographed wearing the necklace and pendant. The single-strand natural pearl and diamond necklace by Cartier, Paris, once belonged to Queen Mary, wife of King George V, who gifted it to her son, the Duke of Windsor.

“These pearls hold a very special place in my heart,” Kelly said. “They were a present from Calvin early on in our relationship. They represent passion, tenderness and a promise about the future. Pearls, in my mind, are different from diamonds or gold. They are warm, mysterious, a small miracle created by nature. They should be worn close to the skin, imbued with the essence of the wearer. It is my hope they will be given again, as they have been in the past, as a gesture of love and worn often and proudly.”

Lisa Hubbard, chairman of North and South America's international jewelry department for Sotheby's, said, “The sale of The Jewels of the Duchess of was the definitive iconic auction. Her jewels, in some cases literally with small inscriptions, spoke of the romance they celebrated and the glamorous lifestyle she shared with the Duke of Windsor. We are honored to be able to offer to a new generation of collectors these magnificent pearls on behalf of Kelly and Calvin Klein, with whom they have resided for the past 20 years. The classic style for which the Kleins are known has immeasurably added to the tale these jewels have to tell. Their beauty and rarity, and historic provenance, are a unique combination that will appeal to a worldwide audience of connoisseurs who seek to own the best of the best.”

The single-strand natural pearl and diamond necklace is composed of 28 natural pearls graduating from approximately 16.8 to 9.2 mm., completed by an oval clasp set with 2 emerald-cut diamonds weighing approximately 2.00 carats and 2 fancy-shaped diamonds weighing approximately 1.00 carat, bordered by 20 small round diamonds weighing approximately 0.70 carat. The length of the necklace is 14 inches, with a clasp signed Cartier, Paris. The necklace was lot 65 in the 1987 sale of The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor.

The natural pearl and diamond pendant, Cartier, Paris, circa 1950, may be worn as a drop on the aforementioned necklace. The large natural pearl drop of slightly baroque form measures approximately 18.4 mm. in diameter, drilled and capped by single-cut and round diamonds, on a detachable stirrup-shaped diamond-set pendant fitting. The pearl is stated to weigh 190.60 grains. This natural pearl pendant was sold to the current owners as lot 67 in the sale of The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor in 1987.

The collection also includes a pair of black and white natural pearl and diamond earclips, Van Cleef & Arpels, New York, 1957. According to the archives of Van Cleef & Arpels in New York, these earclips were made in 1957 and purchased the following year. Offered in the sale of The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor as lot 66, the earclips, mounted in white gold, are set with a black pearl measuring approximately 18.2 mm. and a white pearl measuring approximately 18.1 mm., within borders of 32 pear-shaped and 64 round diamonds, weighing a total of approximately 9.25 carats.

The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor, Geneva, 1987

On April 2, 1987, the personal jewelry collection of the late Duchess of Windsor, comprising magnificent examples of Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Harry Winston jewels, was sold for $50.3 million, seven times the presale estimate and a standing world record for any single-owner jewelry sale.

The unique collection brought to life the relationship of the Duke and Duchess, which was hailed the romance of the century. Many of the pieces were collaborative efforts between the jewelers and the Duke, who had an exemplary eye and a taste for creating innovative style. The elegant Duchess was for many years one of the world’s best dressed women, and she selected fashions as backdrops for the jewels loved by both her and the Duke. It was these elements of history, quality, design and romance that drew international buyers such as the Kleins to participate in the auction twenty years ago.

Intense bidding was relayed simultaneously in a tent overlooking Lake Geneva in Switzerland and in Sotheby’s New York salesroom, and many items sold for up to ten times their expected price.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Pearler of a price

5:00AM Thursday September 13, 2007
By Jessica Wauchop
Photo / Dean Purcell

Photo / Dean Purcell

Usually associated with maiden aunts and royalty, pearls are making a comeback among the fashion-conscious.

And model Zanita Whittington shows why they are now a must-have accessory for young Hollywood celebrities looking for a touch of glamour.

This $400,000 necklace features a rare and perfectly matched 17mm graduated to 14mm strand of pearls.

The necklace was designed by jewellery firm Autore, which provides stars including Scarlett Johansson and Angelina Jolie with pearls for premieres and awards ceremonies.

They are being displayed in Auckland as part of a fundraising fashion show today at The Westin hotel to benefit Breast Cancer Research.

Autore general manager Justin Schwaz said the pearls' lustre increased the value of the necklace.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Winners Named in Pearl Design Competition


The Cultured Pearl Association of America representing Pearls de Tahiti in the United States, named the winners of the 2007-2008 “The Song of the Stars” Tahitian Pearl Trophy - North American division.

Judging for the event, in its fifth year, took place at the Terrace Club in New York City on Aug. 22nd 2007. The jury was made up of Laurie Schechter, Stylists & Co., Elena Mauer senior associate editor Bridal Guide, Jean Francois Bibet, Van Cleef and Arpels, Amanda Gizzi, Jewelry Information Center, Kathleen Fritzpatrick freelance editor, Hedda T. Schupak JCK editor –in- chief, and Fran Mastoloni, Frank Mastoloni &Sons.

The following were the winners in each of the ten categories:

*. Ring – Avi Raz - A & Z Pearls 1st place, Adam Neeley - Adam Neeley Designs 2nd place

*. Male Jewelry – Larry C. Y. Ho - Maemura Designs 1st place, Yutao Liu - Yl Consulting Designs 2nd place, Nina Basharova - Albert Asher Pearls 3rd place

*. Necklace – Reena Ahluwalia 1st place, Maggie Davidson - A Thousand Visions Studio 2nd place, Jeong-Seon Han 3 rd place

*. Parure (set of 3) – Lisa Krikawa - Krikawa Designs, Inc. 1st place, Margarette Elie - Elie Design 2nd place

*. Pendant – Erica Courtney Inc. 1st place, Adam Neeley - Adam Neeley Designs 2nd place, Nina Basharova - Albert Asher Pearls 3rd place

*. Brooch – Nina Basharova - Albert Asher Pearls 1st place,Reena Ahluwalia 2nd place, Margarette Elie - Elie Design 3rd place

*. Bracelet – Evelyn Huang - Evelyn H. Jewelry Inc.1st place, Reena Ahluwalia 2nd place, Tara & Sons 3rd place

*. Accessory – Yutao Liu - Yl Consulting Designs 1st place, Larry C.Y. Ho - Maemura Designs 2nd place, Margarette Elie - Elie Design 3rd place

*. Earrings - Celine Boure - Kokass 1st place, Hugh Power - Hugh Power Designs 2nd place

*. Special – Larry C. Y. Ho - Maemura Designs 1st place

The first place winners will now submit their entry to the International jury for judging in the competition. More than 60 countries participated in the 2005-2006 event.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Innovation Continues in Chinese Freshwater Pearl Culture


In April of this year, CEO Jeremy Shepherd and GIA writer Doug Fiske traveled with GIA photographer Valerie Power to the Weitang and Zhuji regions, centers of the Chinese freshwater pearl industry. For nearly a week, we interviewed farmers, traders, and even the chairman of one of the largest freshwater pearl production companies. The information we gathered gives a clear picture of where the industry is today and a detailed explanation of coin-bead/spherical bead (CBSB) freshwater pearls, some of which are called "fireballs."

Current Production
Several sources reported a 2006 total Chinese freshwater output of 1,500 metric tons, of which 800 metric tons are suitable for jewelry. Of the 1,500 metric tons, the vast majority are tissue-nucleated pearls. Although spherical bead nucleation is a reality in China, bead-nucleated pearl volume is relatively small.

Over the last few years, people in the industry have noticed a clear increase in the quality of Chinese freshwater output. Size, shape, and even color have improved remarkably. This is due in part to the fairly new practice of fewer nucleations in each valve of the mussel. In the past, up to 25 tissue pieces were inserted in the mantle of each valve. Today, only 12 to 16 pieces of tissue are implanted, producing a total of 24 to 32 pearls per mussel. The fewer-grafts method has had a direct effect on the quality and size of the pearls.

Jeremy ShepherdThe Triangle MusselDoug Fiske

It is widely known that Chinese pearl farmers use the triangle mussel (Hyriopsis cumingi) to culture freshwater pearls. This mussel replaced the cockscomb mussel (Cristaria plicata) nearly a decade ago.The cockscomb mussel was responsible for the Rice Krispie freshwater pearls that China first became known for. The switch to the triangle mussel is significant in that it led to the higher-quality production seen today.

Introduction of the Biwa Pearly Mussel
Today, there's another new mussel in Chinese freshwater pearl culture. The transformation is leading to even higher quality freshwater cultured pearls in more saturated colors and larger sizes.

During an interview in Zhuji, the chairman of Grace Pearl mentioned a mussel that we did not know as native to China. The literal translation was “pond butterfly mussel.” Although culturing Chinese freshwater pearls in the mussel began within only the last few years, it is already responsible for about 30 percent of China’s production. We were unable to determine the scientific name of the mussel, so we turned to Chinese news articles and scientific journals. What we found was startling: The scientific name for “pond butterfly mussel” is Hyriopsis schlegeli. In Japanese, it’s ikecho. Its common name is Biwa pearly mussel. In effect, the Chinese have been producing Biwa pearls for several years.

The first report of the Biwa pearly mussel having been imported to China from Japan appeared in a scientific journal in 1997. The Hongmen City Reservoir Development Company began raising Biwa pearly mussels in hatcheries and experimenting with their pearling potential in China. They found that the mussel had greater vitality and produced better pearls overall. The advantages for the Chinese pearl industry were obvious. But researchers did not stop with the simple use of the Biwa mussel. They cross-bred it with the triangle mussel, thereby creating a hybrid that is better than either pure species with respect to pearl culture. There is no scientific or common name for the hybrid. Loosely translated, the Chinese call it the "leisure mussel."

Introduction of “Fireball” Cultured Pearls
The Biwa pearly mussel and its triangle-mussel hybrid have undoubtedly changed the course of Chinese freshwater pearl culture. At about the same time, a new pearl entered the scene and gained popularity. It’s a bead-nucleated freshwater pearl that the trade dubbed “fireball.” It’s called that because the pearl often has a tail that makes it look like a comet. An alternative term is CBSB, which is short for coin-bead/spherical bead. The term accurately describes the process that sometimes produces fireballs.

CBSB production has prompted great interest, particularly regarding the genesis of the tail. Stories abound of mythical “pearl nucleation” and organ implantation. But what is the real story?

CBSB production involves a number of steps, each equally important. Spherical bead-nucleated freshwater pearls are not, as many assume, created by the insertion of a piece of mantle tissue and a spherical bead nucleus. That is the common method of culturing bead-nucleated pearls in the gonad of saltwater mollusks. Freshwater mussels do not have the gonad anatomy nor the necessary space between the valves to bead nucleate in the mantle with a spherical bead when the mussel is young.

The Three-Step CBSB Process
Traditional tissue nucleation is done with mussels that are six months to one year old. For the first CBSB step, Mr. He Jainhua, a pearl farmer who specializes in bead-nucleated freshwater pearls, uses three-year-old triangle mussels. He begins with an incision, a coin bead, and 1-mm-square piece of mantle tissue. The host mussel’s mantle completely encloses the flat coin bead. The first step in bead-nucleated pearl production is the creation of a one-year coin pearl.

After that first year, there are two routes the farmer can take. He can remove the coin pearl and return the mussel to the water to create a keshi pearl in the existing pearl sac, or he can leave the mussel in the water to add nacre to the coin pearl. Either way, this second step takes an additional year.

The third step is the production of freshwater pearls that have a spherical bead nucleus. When the mussel is five years old, the farmer removes either the keshi pearl or the coin pearl. He then inserts a spherical bead nucleus in the existing pearl sac. Except that it’s in the mantle rather than the gonad, the technique is similar to growing second-graft Tahitian or South Sea cultured pearls. Both techniques use the existing pearl sac.

The pearl sac, which forms a bulge in the mantle, is a perfect nacre-producing pocket. The pearl growth period at this point can be one or two years. Because beads as large as 12.5 mm are implanted, the resulting bead-nucleated pearls can be of substantial size.

freshwater pearls

The Reason for the Tail
Why do the CBSB pearls often have tails? Although the reasons are not completely clear—even to the farmers in China—we observed two strong factors. The first factor is the insertion of a spherical bead into an existing pearl sac through an incision made to harvest the coin or keshi. The sac accepts the bead but can leave a void adjacent to the incision. If the sac envelops the bead and the incision heals, there will be no tail.

The second factor involves the elasticity of the pearl sac. An analogy is the pearl sac as a plastic bag and the spherical bead as a ball. If you press the ball into the bag, at least one section of the bag will be flush against the ball. If the capacity of the bag is greater than the size of the ball, the area of the bag that does not envelop the ball remains flaccid. The bag—the pearl sac—will produce nacre to cover the spherical nucleus and fill the void. The result is a spherical-bead-nucleated cultured pearl with a tail of some shape. Some CBSBs have the long, spiked tails that characterize fireballs.

Giant Clam Beads Likely
CBSB farmers use spherical nuclei that range from 9 to 12.5 mm in diameter. We asked about the origin of the beads. The answer was that the beads come from freshwater mussel shells. It was clear that the beads were not old freshwater pearls. That method had been tried, but it proved not economically or physically feasible.

Still, it remained hard to believe that the beads came from freshwater shells. Seven millimeters is the maximum for spherical beads from Chinese mussel shells. The only freshwater mussels that can produce nuclei between 9 and 12.5 mm in diameter are the mapleleaf (Quadrula quadrula) and the washboard (Megalonaias nervosa), which are both found only in the US rivers and lakes. American mussel shell beads are too expensive for Chinese freshwater pearl farmers. Even highly striated beads like those used in Tahitian and South Sea pearl production would be cost prohibitive in freshwater pearl production. The beads we saw were very large and very white.

Two nuclei were tested at GIA’s Carlsbad laboratory. They proved to be of saltwater origin. The only saltwater shell capable of yielding nuclei that size is Tridacna gigas—the giant clam.

The giant clam is the world’s largest bivalve mollusk. It can weigh as much as 500 pounds, and has a porcelaneous interior. While its size and shell color are ideal for nucleus production, the giant clam is a threatened species. Importing the giant clam or its derivatives is illegal in the US and other countries that are signatories to CITES, an international treaty intended to protect endangered and threatened species. China is not a signatory.

As they did by inventing blister pearl culture about 700 years ago, Chinese pearl farmers are again proving they are and will continue to be a force in the pearl industry. CBSB pearl production and the importation and hybridization of the Biwa pearly mussel are but two examples of continuing innovation in China’s pearl industry. Let’s wait to see what the future holds.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Paspaley opens boutique at Saks Fifth Avenue


Paspaley, the world's leading and largest South Sea pearl company, has opened its newest boutique in the most exciting luxury shopping destination in Dubai, Saks Fifth Avenue at BurJuman Centre.

The pearling pioneer joins the prestigious Jewellery Court of Saks Fifth Avenue, home to the biggest names in jewellery and watches from around the world. The iconic New York store that brought a whole new meaning to luxury shopping is the ideal setting for appreciating the innate beauty of Paspaley's prime selection of pearl jewellery.

"Paspaley is the top-of-mind choice in South Sea pearls the world over. Equally well known are its dazzling jewellery collections featuring these beautiful pearls. With the opening of its boutique in Saks Fifth Avenue, Paspaley offers jewellery lovers a unique shopping experience in one of the most luxurious settings in the world today,' said Pegah Goldooz, General Manager of Paspaley in the UAE.

Paspaley is likewise celebrated for the outstanding design and craftsmanship of its jewellery. Its magnificent in-house collections are created in the company's workshop in Australia by master jewellers who specialize in South Sea pearls. Paspaley also collaborates with some of the most exciting international jewellery designers to create unique collections and one-of-a-kind pieces based around its pearls.

The much-awaited opening of the Paspaley boutique in Saks Fifth Avenue offers discerning buyers the pleasure of selecting from an exclusive range of Paspaley jewellery in a setting designed with the luxury shopper in mind. The boutique has well-appointed excusive VIP room where clients can view precious pieces in private and the well-trained sales staff provides a professional, yet friendly personalized service.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

90% Budidaya Mutiara Masih Dikuasai Asing

Wednesday, 11 July 2007 03:19:00

JAKARTA, Investor Daily

Dirjen Perikanan Budidaya Departemen Kelautan dan Perikanan (DKP) Made L Nurjana menyayangkan tingginya dominasi asing di sektor budidaya mutiara di Indonesia. Saat ini, investor asing masih menguasai sekitar 90% budidaya mutiara di Tanah Air, padahal pembudidayaannya relatif gampang.

“Sekitar 90% budidaya mutiara masih dikuasai investor asing, yang berasal dari Australia dan Jepang. Ini sangat saya sayangkan, karena budidaya mutiara sebenarnya sangat gampang dan tidak tergantung cuaca,” kata Made kepada Investor Daily di Jakarta, baru-baru ini.

Made menegaskan, sedikitnya pemain lokal yang mengembangkan budidaya mutiara terutama karena kendala modal. Pasalnya, bank-bank besar masih enggan memberi kredit kepada pengusaha lokal, meski budidaya mutiara sangat menguntungkan.

“Investor lokal sulit mengembangkan usaha di budidaya mutiara, karena susah mendapat kredit dari perbankan. Saya menyesalkan kurangnya perhatian dari kalangan perbankan terhadap usaha budaya perikanan dalam negeri, yang memiliki potensi ekspor besar,” ujar Made.

Selain menguntungkan, menurut Made, budidaya mutiara bisa dikerjakan oleh rakyat dan bisa mengandalkan sumber daya alam yang sudah ada. Mutiara yang dihasilkan di Indonesia merupakan mutiara Laut Selatan ( South Sea pearl ) yang juga dijuluki The Queen of Pearls .

“Budidaya mutiara cocok dikerjakan oleh rakyat, karena kerang itu cuma butuh air asin, tidak perlu diberi makan. Investasinya membutuhkan modal sekitar Rp 20 juta untuk 30.000 bibit (dua long line ),” kata Made.

Pasok 50% Pasar Global

Pada periode 2000-2004, rata-rata volume ekpor mutiara Indonesia mencapai 21,38 kilogram (kg). Harga rata-ratanya sebesar US$ 2.333,60 per kg atau setara Rp 21.063 per gram. Sementara itu, harga e mas logam mulia sekitar Rp 186.500 per gram, emas 24 karat Rp 180.500 per gram, dan emas 22 karat Rp 170.000 per gram.

Menurut Made, jika mutiara Indonesia terus dikembangkan dengan baik, Indonesia bisa menjadi pemasok 50% perhiasan berharga itu di pasar global. Saat ini, produksi mutiara Indonesia sekitar 16 ton per tahun.

“Produksi mutiara Indonesia memang sudah termasuk cukup besar, namun seharusnya budidaya ini dikembangkan secara luas,” papar Made.

Made mengakui, ada sebagian pengusaha yang tidak menginginkan budidaya mutiara dikembangkan terlalu luas, karena khawatir bisa menurunkan harganya. Menurut dia kekhawatiran itu tidak beralasan, karena harga mutiara sangat tergantung kualitasnya.

“Meskipun produksi Indonesia berlimpah, harga mutiara yang berkualitas sangat tinggi di pasar ekspor. Sedangkan yang mutunya kurang baik bisa untuk pasar dalam negeri,” tegas Made.

Berdasarkan data Kementerian Negara Riset dan Teknologi, k erang yang berperan sangat penting di bisnis mutiara adalah jenis Pinctada . Mutiara itu dihasilkan secara alami dan lewat budidaya.

Di Indonesia, p usat pengembangan budidaya Pinctada maxima tersebar di Lampung, Jawa Timur, Bali, Nusa Tenggara Barat, Nusa Tenggara Timur, Sulawesi Utara, Sulawesi Tengah, Sulawesi Tenggara, Maluku, Maluku Utara, dan Papua. Selain Pinctada maxima , kerang mutiara lain yang bisa dibudidayakan di sini adalah Pinctada margaritifera, Pinctada fucata, Pinctada lentiginosa dan Pteria penguin.

Di tempat terpisah, Kepala Badan Pusat Statistik Provinsi Gorontalo Soegarenda mengatakan, ekspor mutiara berkontribusi besar terhadap pendapatan daerahnya. Dari Januari 2007, ekspor mutiara cenderung meningkat.

“Pada Januari-Maret 2007, ekspor mutiara dan batu permata meningkat sangat tajam dibanding komoditas yang lain, yakni naik 42,25% menjadi US$ 67.994,” ucap Soegarenda seperti dikutip Antara .

Dia menjelaskan, ekspor mutiara dan batu permata kini menduduki peringkat I, mengalahkan bungkil kopra dan kayu yang selama ini merupakan komoditas andalan ekspor Gorontalo. Wakil Gubernur Gorontalo Gusnar Ismail menambahkan, bisnis mutiara di daerahnya berprospek cerah. Oleh karena itu, pihaknya memberi dukungan sepenuhnya kepada para pengusaha yang hendak mengembangkan budidaya kerang mutiara. (c107/en)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Black pearl producer to commercialise gem

A self-taught Indian scientist who has produced the world's largest black pearl is looking to commercialise his pearl culture technique that has the potential to change the profile of the country's gem and jewellery exports in a single stroke.

Ajai Kumar Sonkar, who is often mistaken for a jeweller, feels that commercialisation of the technique could make India a net exporter of the magnificent gem -- tales of which abound in Indian history.

Although India's gem and jewellery exports stood at over USD 17 billion in 2006-07, the country last year imported USD 7.24 million worth of raw pearls.

Even the famed Hyderabadi pearls are simply finished products of freshwater pearls imported from China. Roughly 80 per cent of the world pearl market is dominated by Japan, followed by Australia and China.

Japan's monopoly was created owing to the fact it held the technique to create nucleus -- the raw material for pearl culture -- that is implanted in the oyster through a surgery.

Sonkar, who has mastered production of nucleus and had presented his work before President A P J Abdul Kalam in August 2004, said he had received offers from corporates for enabling mass production. But, Sonkar turned them down as they insisted on exclusivity over technology that he could conceive in future.

The scientist had earlier announced that he has developed a 22mm nucleus, besting Japan's record of 18mm. In other words, the bigger the nucleus, the greater the size of pearls.

"My aim is to create jobs for hundreds of thousands of people by making this technology commercial, but cannot allow my research to become a casualty to this process," said Sonkar, 35, who founded the Pearl Aquaculture Research Foundation in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

His interest to mass-produce pearls is significant given the failure of government labs to perfect pearl culture despite over three decades of research.

"Being a valuable product, a project could earn huge foreign exchange... (besides) offer hundreds of jobs to the youth," he said.

Sonkar, who started working independently, perfected the technique to produce nucleated spherical pearls in freshwater and later transited activity to marine pearl culture.

According to him, the best pearls are those produced in marine water, as the freshwater mussels are irregular in shape and chiefly contain calcite calcium carbonate that lacks the pearly component.

Sonkar said the world's most prominent species of pearl oysters 'Pinctada Margaritifera', 'Pinctada Maxima' and 'Pinctada fucata' are available off the Indian archipelago and the climatic conditions were favourable for producing pearls.

His lab also hatches oysters, which are later selected and prepared for the nucleus implantation. The oysters are then transferred to the sea and brought back to the lab after six months to two years for harvest.

Arafura Pearls Holdings Announces a joint venture with Arrow Pearl Co Pty Ltd

Pty Ltd and associates to manage its pearling operation at Beagle Bay on the
Dampier Peninsula in WA for an initial term of 2.5 years, with options at
Arafura’s election to extend the arrangement for a further 12.5 years.
The Beagle Bay operation is one of Western Australia’s well known pearl farms
having produced quality pearl harvests since the early 1980’s. The farm has
15,000 annual wild shell quota allowing approx 18,000 shells to be put into
production this calendar year. However, the land and sea based infrastructure is
significant and is capable of handling much higher production and grow out shell
Arafura Pearls CEO, Andrew Hewitt said the arrangement made strategic sense
for Arafura and was another significant milestone in the company’s development
giving it a Western Australian presence for the first time.
“We believe this will lead to other opportunities for the company in Western
Australia and assist in achieving our goal of becoming one of Australia’s leading
pearling groups”, he said.
As part of financing the JV arrangement, Arafura Pearls is finalising
documentation issuing $1.5 million in secured convertible notes to two existing
shareholders who are unrelated parties to the company. The convertible notes
have a three (3) year term, an interest rate 5.5% above the 180 day bank bill
rate, and may be converted at the greater of $0.45 and 80% of the volume
weighted market price at the time of conversion.
Mr Hewitt said that he was encouraged by the investor interest shown in the
convertible note issue at these conversion prices.

Further information visit or contact:
Andrew Hewitt
Chief Executive Officer
Tel: (08) 9382 4818
Mob: 0419 903 940

Japan show attracts over 16,000 buyers

July 03, 2007

Kobe, Japan—The 11th International Jewellery Kobe 2007 (IJK) brought in a record-breaking 16,167 professional buyers from Japan and abroad between May 17-19 at the Kobe International Exhibition Hall in Kobe.

The show also featured a record-breaking 633 exhibitors from 24 countries.

IJK show management cited the increased interest from attendees and exhibitors as an indication of the show's importance as a leading business venue for the jewelry trade.

In addition to increased attendance, IJK's gross available exhibition space has grown by 50 percent since a new extension wing was added to the exhibition hall in 2006. Country pavilions at the show included Hong Kong, Italy and Taiwan, and the record number of visitors to the show came from 33 countries.

The show features the world's largest exhibition of pearls, with leading companies from Ise, Kobe, Tokyo and others exhibiting their latest products. Also on display were diamond and colored-stone collections.

Exhibitors reported increased sales at the show this year, a trend that has characterized IJK.

"We were able to conduct very fruitful business negotiations at this year's IJK," said Shuro Uemoto, director of Australian opal company Mariora Corp. "More buyers are becoming aware of how convenient access to the IJK venue is from Kobe Airport, and this year we were able to meet important buyers from all over Japan. We regard IJK as a very important trade show where one is able to have good business negotiations with high-quality buyers."

The event is the largest of its kind in Western Japan, an area that accounts for more than half of the country's jewelry market.

Mother-of-pearl -- Classic beauty and remarkable strength

MADISON -- While the shiny material of pearls and abalone shells has long been prized for its iridescence and aesthetic value in jewelry and decorations, scientists admire mother-of-pearl for other physical properties as well.

Also called nacre ("NAY-ker"), mother-of-pearl is 3,000 times more fracture-resistant than the mineral it is made of, aragonite, says Pupa Gilbert, a physicist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "You can go over it with a truck and not break it - you will crumble the outside [of the shell] but not the [nacre] inside. And we don't understand how it forms - that's why it's so fun to study."

Understanding the mechanism by which nacre forms would be the first step toward harnessing its strength and simplicity, she says. "We don't know how to synthesize materials that are better than the sum of their parts."

Writing in the June 29 issue of Physical Review Letters, Gilbert and her colleagues in the UW-Madison department of physics and School of Veterinary Medicine, the Institute for the Physics of Complex Matter in Switzerland and the UW-Madison Synchrotron Radiation Center, now describe unexpected elements of nacre architecture that may underlie its strength and offer clues into how this remarkable material forms.

Like our bones and teeth, nacre is a biomineral, a combination of organic molecules - made by living organisms - and mineral components that organisms ingest or collect from their environment. The aragonite mineral in nacre is made of calcium carbonate, which marine animals form from elements abundant in seawater.

Though a mere 5 percent of abalone nacre is organic, this small fraction somehow lays enough foundation for the mineral components to assemble spontaneously, Gilbert says.

"Ninety-five percent of the mass of this biomineral is self-assembled, while only 5 percent is actively formed by the organism," she says. "It is one of the most efficient mechanisms you can think of."

To gain insight into this self-assembly process, Gilbert and graduate student Rebecca Metzler examined the structure of abalone nacre using synchrotron radiation - light emitted by electrons speeding around a curved track.

When used to examine a cross-section of an abalone shell, previously seen to resemble a brick wall with layers of organic "mortar" separating individual crystalline "bricks," the polarized light from the synchrotron revealed that the nacre wall was not uniform.

Instead, the wall contained distinct clumps of bricks, each an irregular column of crystals with identical composition but a crystal orientation different than neighboring columns.

Since orientation affects how crystals emit electrons, "some of the columns of bricks appear white and others appear black and more appear gray, depending on their crystal orientation," Gilbert explains.

The overall effect resembles a camouflage pattern, each roughly columnar cluster a slightly different shade. More at

Other info can be found at: and

Contact: Pupa Gilbert
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Thousands of pearls found in recovered treasure


KEY WEST, Fla. - Shipwreck salvors discovered thousands of pearls Friday after opening a small, lead box they said they found while searching for the wreckage of the 17th-century Spanish galleon Santa Margarita.

Divers from Blue Water Ventures of Key West said they found the sealed lead box, measuring 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches, along with a gold bar, eight gold chains and hundreds of other artifacts earlier this week. They were apparently buried beneath the ocean floor in approximately 18 feet of water about 40 miles west of Key West.

"There are several thousand pearls starting from an eighth of an inch to three-quarters of an inch," said Duncan Mathewson, marine archaeologist and partner in Blue Water Ventures. "We have no idea exactly how many, because we haven't counted them yet."

James Sinclair, archaeologist and conservator consulting with Mel Fisher's Treasures, Blue Water's joint-venture partners, said the pearls are very rare because of their antiquity and condition.

"Pearls don't normally survive in the ocean very well once they've lost the protection of the oyster that makes them," Sinclair said. "In this instance, we had a lead box and the silt that had sifted into the box from the site of the Margarita, which preserved the pearls in a fairly pristine state."

An initial cache of treasure and artifacts from the Santa Margarita was discovered in 1980 by pioneering shipwreck salvor Mel Fisher. The pearls will be conserved, documented and photographed in an archaeological laboratory above the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West.

"Until they're properly cleaned and conserved we don't know their value, but it would seem they would be worth upwards of a million dollars," Mathewson said.