"My husband traveled quite a bit for work and I had to mow our three-acre yard with 300 pine trees on a riding mower. Every week as I traveled in hundreds of circles around the yard, all I could think about was how wonderful these pearls were..."- Wendy
We are thrilled to continue our interview with Wendy Fairchild for this week's blog post. Enjoy!
Wendy and her husband Bill at Jeremy and Hisano's wedding ceremony
Everybody loved the jewelry that you wore to Jeremy and Hisano's wedding, can you tell us a little bit about it?
I was at the Malibu Ruckus two years ago. I was interested in finding a White South Sea strand to go with a pair of stud earrings that I had in my collection. When you go to "The Vault," you have a choice of loose pearls or drilled strands. The prices vary depending on the size, shape, and quality that you select. Like many, I have a round, perfect taste but a baroque pocket book. Jeremy selected many trays of White South Sea baroques for me to choose from. Then he said he had just gotten in a shipment from Dr. Joseph Taylor's Atlas Pearl farm. He hurried back into the vault and bought out more trays of pearls. If you haven't been to the vault, this is what shopping looks like....
White South Sea baroque beauties from the Atlas Pearl Farm
Wendy picked the second strand from the bottom...
I just love this necklace, it just glows on the neckline and feels so good on.
The finished necklace. Good choice Wendy!
So what is next? Are you on the lookout for the next special addition to your collection?
Actually, Cynde and Jeremy selected some pearls for me from his last shopping trip to Hong Kong. Hisano is making me a custom metallic souffle, pistachio Akoya, and fireball pendant. Because of the finished length, I've requested a hidden enhancer bale be made for the back of the souffle. After looking at the two pearls, I asked for an additional green akoya pearl and bezel set diamond spacers with eye pins that will be installed between the pearls to make it movable. I can’t wait until it’s completed and floating on my omega necklace or clipped into a strand of pearls.
Pendant in progress
What do you love most about your pearl jewelry?
How versatile it is. They can be worn with t-shirts to business suits and everything in between. I have found that Tahitian pearls are easier to wear daily as they seem less formal. They come in so many colors that contrast and complement my skin tone. No matter what the season, they always seem appropriate. I reach for this 11-15 mm multi-colored strand the most often for everyday wear.
What advice would you give to someone that was new to the world of pearls?
(... and she wasn't kidding!)
* Find a online pearl forum and learn as much as you can before you jump into your first purchase. You will save yourself money and you’ll be directed to the best, most reliable sources for purchasing quality pearls at the best price points.
* Pearls are safe. You can wear them on vacation or anywhere without fear. Many ladies have a collection of fake travel jewelry but you don’t need that with pearls, as most have no idea what they are worth. Additionally, most have a preconceived idea of pearls only being small round and white. When you wear pearls that don’t look like grandma’s small graduated akoyas, they don't know what you're wearing. I can't tell you the amount of times I've been told "Nice Beads" by strangers, and that’s OK.
* Don’t be afraid to step outside of the box or your comfort zone. I was afraid to buy white or baroque pearls. I liked the look on others, but was afraid I would not wear them if I bought them. Cynde actually sent me one of her large white baroque south sea pearl strands to borrow for 6 months and I wore it a lot. Not only did I fall for the color and saw they were not only for special occasions, I loved the free form shapes too. I purchased my white south sea strand shown above because of this experiment.
* Many ladies start out buying smaller pearls but slowly go up in MM size. Warning, once you wear large pearls, it’s hard to go back wearing smaller pearls again. Re-gifting unworn pearls is nice and others will love you for it.
* Since there is no universal grading system every seller uses, you have to trust that your seller is selling the exact grade they claim on their site. Stock photos are great, but will you get pearls like them when you open the box? Check your seller out on the internet and in the forums. Also, using the Better Business Bureau is a helpful tool. If you did an experiment and bought 1 of the exact same grade item from three different vendors, you will find not everyone’s AAA pearls are the same, and price doesn't mean quality.
*Look outside you local jeweler for your pearls. Unless they are the exception, they will be carrying commercial grade pearls. Since the average store does less then 10% of their sales in pearls, they are not usually something they focus on when buying their stock.
* Buy the best pearls you can afford. Mediocre pearls will never make you happy. Many buy lower quality pearls to start their collection and then don't wear them. It’s amazing how many women say they didn’t think they liked pearls until they started purchasing pearls of higher quality merchandise.
* Pearls are versatile and recyclable. If you tire of the style or length, it easy to change their look. Buy more of the same, another color, perhaps some faceted gem or metal beads and have them restyled into another look or perhaps a less formal style. A necklace can become two bracelets, a few stands can become a rope. A little imagination and you'll be reaching for them again.
*Join forums and join the fun. Many of the people on the online forums have found lifelong friends they would never have found in their daily life. Some meet up in hotels, resorts and even mansions. It’s educational and exciting to see collections of pearls you’ve read about but have not had to opportunity to see anywhere else. You can meet the pearl farmers who are growing the pearls you wear, vendors and fellow pearl enthusiasts. Most people are very helpful and you may find yourself learning how to restring your pearls, who would have guessed?
What would your dream pearls be, If you could have any kind of pearl in any size or shape?
Wow, you saved the hardest question for last. With the new technology and many pearl farms pushing the envelope with innovation, we have no idea what will be for sale in the future or even in the next six months. Many pearls that were by-products of something that they were trying to achieve may be available for a very short time, but are either dropped or disappear when success is achieved.
I am grateful for the items I have collected that were brought in via small, hand-selected lots. The eight-way rollers, Inception pearls - pearl in a pearl, and color-shifting freshwater pearls for instance. When these things appear you have a small window of opportunity to grab them or miss out: many are not repeated. Some were just produced by one lone farm trying to invent something new for the market.
Wendy's tin cup made with "Inception Pearls"
One of the finest pearls ever to come from the Sea of Cortez