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My First Pearl-Buying Trip to the Hong Kong Jewelry Show

About 2 years ago, Pearl Paradise took a chance on me. Oh, I knew I loved jewelry but an expert I was not. Fast forward to early last month and to my utter amazement, I can call myself a pearl expert. And poof, Hong Kong here I come!

The Hong Kong Skyline

While getting the chance to attend a trade show in Hong Kong is a learning experience, I also had a job - I was responsible for the wish list! Golden and white South Seas, freshwater keshis, round Tahitians, I’m coming for you.

I was lucky enough to get there a couple days earlier than Jeremy and Hisano, which was truly a blessing for this newbie to world travel. Time travel is no joke friends! After that long 15-hour flight, a swift ride on the metro and a zig-zag cab ride on the “wrong” side of the street, the nightlife of Hong Kong engulfed me.

Visiting Hong Kong to source pearls

Talk about a symphony of sensory stimulation! The lights, the smells, the HUMIDITY! It all thrust itself at me with no coaxing. I was literally catapulted into a new world entirely, except somehow, it was familiar too. It must have been the McDonald and the Starbucks, and all the signs in English. Or it could’ve just been my over preparation for a trip to the other side of the world. I was HERE. My new HERE wasn’t going to let me rest either and that was fine with me! I was ready.

I was so ready and time befuddled, I showed up for work a day early! Ha, Jeremy and Hisano hadn’t even arrived yet. It took me some time to realize it, but when I did, I seized the day and went to explore. Some folks like to shop when they travel, others like to see the sites, but this girl likes to eat! My husband decided at the last minute to join me on the trip, so we were off to Dim Sum and it did not disappoint!

Sorting pearls from Fiji

The next three days were a whirlwind! After a speedy trip on the metro (under the sea!) I followed my fearless leaders through a grandiose convention center at the edge of the harbor to a maze of pearl vendors and our trusted suppliers. Here we ogled and sorted through metallic freshwaters, colorful Tahitians and even pistachio akoyas. I managed to find most of my wish list items and loved watching Hisano sort with a deft hand and a trained eye. She even left me to match pairs and sort metallics, truly a feat in itself. Proud newbie over here, friends.

The first day of our pearl buying trip

I was even spontaneously interviewed by a Japanese television station. That was an exciting surprise. It’s a good thing my lipstick hadn’t worn off and my hair hadn’t completely frizzed. I’m now semi-famous somewhere in Japan J!

During our exploration, we came upon the most spectacular piece of jewelry yet. So rare, I barely got my photo snapped before the purveyor was chasing me away calling “No photos!”  I jetted out of there so quick, I didn’t even get to find out the worth of this stunning ring, made of around 30 wild conch pearls of the truest pink I’d ever encountered. Even Jeremy and Hisano were floored at its beauty. It was incomparable. Later, I had the fortuitous opportunity to accompany Hisano in the search for precious gemstones for her little h designs. I followed her with a mouth agape. I had to remind myself to close! The vast array of color and selection was astounding.


A stunning ring featuring 20 natural conch pearls

 In the evening, my husband would fill me in on his adventures in food and culture throughout Kowloon and Hong Kong Central, and we’d reconvene with Jeremy and Hisano who were the most gracious of hosts - welcoming us to some of the most amazing and exotic feasts we’ve ever experienced, from choosing our own live seafood to Jeremy’s most favorite, Peking Duck. We enjoyed the company of colleagues who were Hong Kong locals and colleagues from afar, soaking in the magic of a trip of a lifetime.

Just about two years ago, Pearl Paradise took a chance on me. I’m so grateful they did! The travel bug has bitten friends. Anytime I’m invited for a trip abroad, especially to find pearls. I’ll be ready!

Amazing natural color pearls

Natural metallic luster on freshwater pearls

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  • Lisa Moseley

    Hey Erin – I know how excited you were to go. Sounds like your trip was everything you expected, and more! BTW, those Fijian pearls are amazing! Looking forward to seeing you at the Ruckus, if not before!

  • Beatriz

    What a fantastic experience, Erin! And what luscious pearls.

  • Erin L

    Hi Jacqueline,

    Yes, we did! Hisano has them in her personal stash right now, but you should drop her a line! Hisano@pp

  • Jacqueline Chow

    Erin, sounds like u had a wonderful trip. Must have be amazing!
    Pistachio akoyas? Sounds might interesting. Did u guys bring any back?

  • Erin L

    Thank you Janice!

  • Janice Strand

    You have helped me so many times with pearl questions, and getting to know you through this wonderful blog has been exciting and informative. You have found a dream-come-true career, and I look forward to many purchases using your guidance. I have a new granddaughter born in June, and all pearl lovers know her birthstone! (As a retired English teacher, I give your blog an “A”!)

  • Erin L

    Thanks Berta!

    I know Jeremy and Hisano are discussing the possibility of working with Fijian pearls. I am not 100% certain what they are going to do though.

  • Berta

    Hey Erin, sounds like you’re having fun! You’ve always been so helpful with my purchases, I hope you still find time to help me find special pearls!
    Are you guys going to carry any of the Fiji Shell collection, or will PP make their jewelry with the Fiji pearls?

  • Erin L

    Thank you Cynde! See you in a few weeks!

  • Cynde

    Erin what a wonderful trip and fabulous experience being able to find our pearls. Loved your travel log! See you in a few weeks at the ruckus :)

  • Erin L

    I am sure you will. I will be here!

  • BWeaves

    It sounds like you had a wonderful trip! Congratulations. You helped me with my first PP purchase, too. I hope to meet you in person at Ruckus!

  • Erin L

    Wow! A 20 mm … I am not sure. I don’t think I saw them quite that big!

  • Caitlin Williams

    Erin!! I am so excited for you! I wish I had a wish list item- Hmm, How much would one big say 20mm purple Edison either round or drop cost me? If you can find out this time, I’ll order for next time!
    I hope to see you at the ruckus. Hugs.

  • Erin L

    Thank you Cathy! See you in a few weeks!

  • CathyKeshi

    How exciting for you, Erin! Thank you for the wonderful report … look forward to seeing you end of July :)

  • Erin L

    Hi Judi,

    The last photo are metallic freshwater pearls. The photo where I am looking at a pile of pearls on a towel are the Fijian :)

  • Judi McCormick

    So would you consider this last photo the Fijian pearls? Although I have the pleasure of seeing Jeremy and Hisano in Tucson, I have not been to Hong Kong to the Gem Show. It does look enticing, though.

  • Erin L

    Hi Sarah!
    Of course I remember! You were one of the first people I got to work with! I hope you’re still loving them :)

  • Sarah Buck

    Erin, I remember talking to you the first week you were there. We laughed because you were helping me with my very first PP purchase, a baroque blue akoya necklace & earrings. What a trip that must have been to HK!!

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