A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to take off on my first trip to Asia. Pearls aside, this would be a magnificent trip to experience – just being in Hong Kong felt exciting. Coming from the East Coast, (Philadelphia) it brought me back home. The city was vibrant and beautiful, with no lack of movement anywhere you looked. You can easily walk, or hop on the metro and be anywhere you need in just a few moments. Best of all; the food was amazing, and the hospitality even better. If not for all the hills, and (obviously) the signs in Chinese, I could have easily mistaken it for New York City.
Still being fairly fresh to the pearl world, this trip also took me back to my old profession- the food industry. I worked in high-end fine dining back home, and I have to say; Hong Kong, you did not disappoint! The soup dumplings were to die for, and the fresh lobster casserole melted in your mouth. The crab was juicy to the point that it needed no butter or accoutrements, and the duck… I will dream about the Peking duck, possibly for the rest of my life.
This trip wasn’t just for fun, of course. Our Hong Kong buy trips happen regularly, and I’m not the only one who is excited to see all the goodies. Jeremy, Hisano, and I got to Hong Kong a day before the show, and went from the airport to a very empty convention center – hoping to check in early. We were unsuccessful, but we got there early the next day to beat the lines. That also didn’t quite happen, since the lines reached literally outside- but after about an hour, I was equipped with a buyer’s badge and we went inside into pearl heaven.
Surrounding us from every side were rows of booths, separated into regions and gemstone type. We obviously spent our time perusing all the pearls, with direct routes to our trusted vendors. There were so many pearls it was almost unbelievable. As soon as we got to our favorite Freshwater booth, we selected our baskets and started digging. Want to know the best way to start off a work trip? Easy answer; playing in a pile of Soufflé pearls!
The next few days were spent meticulously sorting through pearls… thousands, and thousands of them. We kept our eyes out for new things in the pearl world- as well as interesting strands, intense colors, and clean surfaces. It was nice to be a part of the process from the beginning, and to really see our strenuous grading system at work in such a large pool of options. Starting with the Freshwater first, we found some huge white Edison pairs with gorgeous luster. On the smaller side of Edisons, we picked through a tray of absolutely gorgeous purple pearls to find just a select few of the best colored pairs.
That tray might look daunting to some, but I gravitated towards the pearl industry as an artist. The idea of piecing together wearable art appealed to me, and selecting and differentiating between shape and color is something that I find enjoyable- so this entire process is meditative for me. Pictured above and below is many, many hours of meditation…
My favorite pearls to check out are Tahitians, there is something about the oil slick surface that I find appealing. Tahitians have so much depth when you look at them, starting from within and enhanced with the associating overtones. I was on the hunt for a unicorn- a 14 mm+ round, flawless AAA peacock Tahitian. I found a few contenders, but not quite what we were searching for. This one was definitely jaw-dropper level for me, though. I maintained a certain level of self-control (somehow) and left the beauty for the next lucky person.
Now I feel like there needs to be some honorable mentions;
The natural strand we stopped to admire was definitely worth taking the time to see- priced in the seven figures! It is pretty amazing to me that we can find such beautiful things naturally occurring within our oceans, and even more impressively- we can then arrange them into a matching graduated triple strand.
We also ran across three MASSIVE South Sea pearls, covering almost a full palm with just those three. They were the biggest pearls I have ever, and possibly will ever see. I think we were all pretty taken with these particular beauties.
Across the board, the trip was a huge success! I had a great time, and look forward to many (hopefully pearl-centric) trips to Hong Kong in my future. Thanks J & H!