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Places & Jewelry
By Barbara Kingstone
Aging is difficult for a former beauty. For many old dames, it’s either go under the knife, binge on Botox or age gracefully. But with some fortitude and ambition, the once grand beauty of Colombo, Sri Lanka’s, Mount Lavinia Hotel, opted for all without any noticeable scars or pin pricks. This colonial building is again glamorous to the point that while I was there in December, there were at least two grand, posh weddings each day, to which, when I was taking photos, I was invited. This is the perfect example of the openness and generosity that personifies this city.
The garden flowers of the Mount Lavinia Hotel were expected. The unexpected were the awesome colourful, silver
tinsel and brightly lit Christmas trees (really triangular strong metal material in a
sculptural shapes) which in the evening’s darker hues is a unique sight against the white of the hotel’s facade. Colour is part of what makes Sri Lanka so exceptional.
They were certainly tempting wedding invites but I had work to do and only a slight window of opportunity to see the capital city with approximately one million people. And for the country that has had it’s fair share of turmoils and battles, there are brighter days for the future and they weren’t just on the colourful Christmas trees. But all that is in the past. The present and future look like the star sapphires for which Sri Lanka is renown as known as,The Gem Island.
The sunset, as I arrived bleary eyed one very early morning after a twenty seven hour trip, didn’t stop me from noticing the glorious panoramic scene over the Indian Ocean as I watched the sunrise from my suite’s balcony. Happily, the room overlooked the sea, horizon, a fine beach, swaying trees and colorful foliage. But there’s more to Colombo besides beaches. The President’s Residence, quaintly known as The Queen’s House, is a fine example of the architecture of the past, the city’s Clock Tower, certainly attracts devotees to
the centre of the city, the Cinnamon Gardens add a fragrant air and cricket greens always seems to have games in play. Plus there’s Pettah Bazaar which travelers enjoy for their different culture and the charming streets with their various, of temptations from food to shopping. Temples, mosques, art museums, brightly colored sari clad women and the younger set wearing the latest, trendiest Western styles and restaurants that equal the number of the myriad of jewellery stores, make this a haven for those who want the experiences of being in a country far from home.
Although one wouldn’t know from the drive from the airport where there are still mainly one storey, tired, desolate looking store fronts, that there are now shiny, new mini malls. Locals love their new malls which are generally packed with potential consumers. Another surprise is how fashion, from shoes to clothing and jewellery, had my jaw dropping to see that the smaller shops are surviving so well as the country, once considered one of the poorest in the world, is on its way from a has-been to one with emerging, stronger economy.
Not unlike many other Asian cities, Colombo has major traffic jams. The snarled traffic has alternative with the efficient and humorous-looking tuk
tuks or trishaws, as they move in and out of these massive juggernauts with seemingly not a care in the world. It’s only the faces of the foreigners that display sheer fear. But this mode of getting from A to B is inexpensive and a time saver as these three wheelers sneak between the clutter of cars.
Another survival gimmick I learned was how to cross the car-infested narrow streets since the drivers avoid taking notice of pedestrian zebra lines and often don’t even stop for the lights. So walking beside a local who is about to cross to the other side or stay put, is now on my survival kit list.
Once a country with so many spices sold to the rest of the world that it was hard to keep count of the number, there is again a thriving business, along with a huge textile industry, production of mountains of rice for export, ditto their tea and a great envious supply of oil.
But my reasons for being in Colombo was to see the the International Gem, Mineral and Jewellery Show, the second bi-annual exhibit sponsored by the Sri Lanka Export Development Board of Gemologists Association of Sri Lanka and often called The Gem Island (Ratna-Dweepa).
The gemstones are often found in streams, rivers and flood plains and are considered the “natural wealth” of the country. Sri Lanka has the highest density of gemstone compared to the size of the country’s area.
Sri Lanka has a mother lode including topazes, citrines, amethysts, quartz, beryls, aquamarines, rubies, moonstones, many colours of tourmalines and especially the world’s best sapphires, again in multi colours like rare pink and yellow. This convention venue was the perfect forum to represent their gemstones to the world for investment opportunities and also a change to see a stunning fashion show which not only included the gems but also exquisite saris and cocktail wear showing off their textile industry and talented designers.
Business was booming as many Chinese and Russian buyers seemed to be the big spenders with their presence in the over 100 vendors’ showcases. Large, genuine, investment stones sold well to those economically comfortable countries. And the event was open to the public which sold at retail
prices and with a bit of bargaining, for a lesser price. On show for just a short while was the sapphire known as The Star of Lanka, a 393 carat star sapphire brought in under guard, an amazing sight owned by the Sri Lankan Government.
This jewellery show exhibit is hoping to compete with fairs in Hong Kong, Las Vegas and Tucson, Arizona, all long established and well attended venues. Sri Lanka may well meet the expectations with their plethora of colored gems.
The Commerce and Trade official who gave a short, informal talk, stated that this country, is now emerging and with labour costs still lower than those in other countries, the costs of, cutting, polishing and finishing, should make these stones more affordable this side of the world.
The issue is always price and I found many wonderful stone-encrusted pieces, some relatively well priced compared to North America and Europe. However, unless you’ve done your homework and come with comparative prices, the amount is often near the same. That should be looked into by the government so as not to lose out on the opportunity to show at the very competitive other market places. From what I heard and discussed, it would be better to make less profit by lowering their price tags than no profit at all.
Since diamonds and gold have become too expensive for most of the manufacturers and dealers in Sri Lanka, to keep prices down, the gold, when used instead of silver, is often set with zircons or the famed blue moonstones and lesser valued colored gems. If and when gold is used, it ranges from
14 karat, 18 karat and some in 22 karat gold and prices are out of touch with reality.
“With gold being so highly priced, our colored gemstones look great in silver,” I was told by several dealers. The were right. The items were exquisite as were the special and often very large, loose stones.
Being curious, I asked, if there was some reluctance to buying completed designs in silver. I was told the same answer from many of the dealers. ‘“Diamonds are just too expensive as is gold for use, so we interpret our designs into silver.” Actually, often the small white sapphires inset instead of diamonds, do have a great appeal and lustre when added to the alternative metal certainly create a very expensive looking item. Silver never looked so good.
Among the stand -out stalls, were Raja Jewellers Ltd., which recreated a small, chic boutique and Zam Gems, both organized the fashion show which feature flowing and lovely saris and cocktail wear and jewelry which was just to difficult to see from where I sat.. Other really smart dealers, some with headquarters in other cities, were the 4th generation, Aminra Gem & Jewellery Ltd., Prasanna Gem Centre located in Kandy where I thought the prices of their over- treated stones and substitute crystals for diamonds, were far too expensive for the customer. Gamini Gem & Jewellery Ltd. has a well known reputation and where a New York dealer planned to spend $500,000 since he has known and worked with them before. Off that venue, I found that, Sparkling Gems & Jewels in the Mount Lavinia Hotel’s shopping arcade, very impressive but again, a bit too expensive in comparative with what’s available in stores in Europe and North America.
My personal one objection is that too many stones were were over treated hence creating overly vibrant colored, fake looking stones. For my taste, the natural, the better.
But the bottom line is that this was a well attended, well displayed showing and since this is only the second exhibit (2012), the future looks as great as the plethora of the gemstones of Sri Lanka as long as the price tags are competitive with the wholesale industry’s worldwide.
By Barbara Kingstone
Valencia, Spain is a small-ish city but with great suprises. None more than my meeting with one of the most talented, imaginative and important jewelry designers in Spain. Vincente Gracia is getting ready to leave for London where he will launch a book about his artistic jewelry designs. He is one of Spain’s true treasures, known as the jeweler of jewelers. Another jewel to add to Valencia.
However, it will be somewhat of a rush, since he was still sitting with a client when I arrived and there are two more waiting to meet with him. But I didn’t mind waiting since it was truly a magnificent old palace. (In Spain’s heyday, palaces sprung up like the condos of today!)
Up the two curved flights of stair with the heavily carved railings, I was invited into one of the waiting rooms like no other I’ve seen. Vitrines, naturally, surrounded the room and were filled with tempting gems which have been made into exquisite objects. But it was his mastery of decor that had such a great edge that made me gasp. A gilded framed antique sofa has been recovered with a most unusually beautifully multi colored, most contemporary mixture of stripes and swirls.
Gracia, was born into jewelry since his father was one and Gracia recalls playing with the gem stones as though they were toys. And it was when he was in his teens that he decided that fire opals and blue turquoise (Le Bleu de Perse) were his favorite stones.
Although there were all the precious and semi precious stones, the turquoise is treated with the greatest honor, clean with not an imperfection but now designed with streaming hanging diamonds and ending with small rubies. There were many items featuring coral which works with all the other stones. Gracia sees all these as “routes of our country”.
It is quite usual to see a gem -stone bird sitting on top a ring or another small animal set within a cluster of magically colored jewel settings and other objects placed in a gaggle of bewitching, colorful gems. Many of his designs include flowers, small animals and who wouldn’t want to have one of his huge cuff bracelets often including the unusual mixture of colors and even rough stones. It’s here that history meets the present day.
With his 14 craftsmen nearby who work as goldsmiths and the enameling is done in Barcelona, while many stones for Gracia are cut in Germany, and pearls come from the Orient, it’s no surprise that many of the gems come from India. All this leaves time for the casually, but perfectly turned out man, to concentrate on designing.
“I love the woman who wears my jewelry and realizes that there’s history and historic facts in each,” says this 60ish suave, gallant man, who doesn’t seem to be hurrying off or too concerned about getting to the airport and his plane to London.
“It’s so Spanish not to hurry but to make time for what seems important ,” he says as he fondles a wonderful heavily gem-encrusted neckpiece.
No only was this late afternoon meeting an experience and not knowing that when I walked into what seemed like a very modest entrance I would soon realize that this is more than just another shop as I started up a regal staircase. If only the walls could talk since this was once an ancient in-city palace. And suddenly I was aware but couldn’t fathom how people looked and lived in the old days of splendor of Spain. And then to meet a most charming man, his helpful son and be besotted with shining, stunning, original, one of a kind brooches, neckpieces, rings, bracelets and all things rare and splendid became my idea of a fine day in Valencia.
Nearly ninety years ago, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala commissioned Cartier to turn his abundant cache of loose precious stones into a ceremonial necklace for his crown jewel collection. This necklace later came to be called the ‘Patiala Necklace,’ and is considered to be one of the most spectacular pieces of jewelry ever created. Completed in 1928, it contained 1000 carats with 2930 diamonds.
Jyotsna Singh, the gifted granddaughter of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala, inherited her grandfather’s passion for jewelry, and today carries forth the royal legacy with her international brand of jewelry, Manjusha. . Jyotsna’ offers an exquisite and opulent range of semi-precious fascination jewelry inspired by her grandfather’s royal collection. “My fascination with jewelry started at an early age, since I was exposed to the magnificence of the royal family jewels,” she says. Drawing on her rich family heritage, Jyotsna blends generations of exquisite intricate design in materials that make them more wearable and affordable.
Manjusha, which literally means ‘treasure chest of jewels,’ and presents collections of unique fusion jewelry that combine the majesty of the old with the intensity of the new. Jyotsna Singh is inspired by the beauty of the royal Jadau designs, jewelry reminiscent of a bygone era of royal palaces and princely extravagance. Its versatile beauty is still relevant since she adds some contemporary designs to her pieces. Manjusha is a unique and exciting collection of fusion jewelry, its classic art deco style complimented by intricately crafted oriental motifs using semi-precious stones set in 22 karat gold-plated silver.Ms Singh’s collection includes many statement pieces in a myriad of colors that capture the imagination, showcasing bold string combinations of aquamarine, citrine, rotile, amethyst, lapis, turquoise, carnelian and more. The collection also uses the soft colors of rose quartz, aventurine, green amethyst and pearls.
Instead of traveling around the world in search for her stones, Jyotsna heads toJaipur where she is known and also knows the best stone merchants.
“I don’t use diamonds since I don’t want the stress of these expensive stones,” she says… a far cry from the 1000 carat neckpiece. Certainly, Jyotsna Singh’s designs will continue the family’s connection with exquisite, opulent and very wearable creations.
Prices are affordable and start from $300 to $1000 which will make every purchaser look like a modern day Maharani.
by Barbara Kingstone
I’ve had a love affair with pearls since I was 16 when I was gifted my first strand, and that was many decades ago The spell is still there, but admittedly the pearls are larger and in a range of colours. So, I was thrilled to see a shop window filled with these lustrous gems.
Danny Eliav’s shop in Jerusalem seems small, but that may be because there are clients sitting at a glass cases, deciding on size, colour, shape, to purchase. Decision made, Danny and I start discussing our mutual love affair with the oysters’ by-product from around the globe – Australia’s large South Sea pearls, Akoya pearls seas around China and Japan and Tahitian black pearls.
“Round is still the favoured shape,” Danny says. However, we discuss the new trend of keshi and baroque which have become so popular with North American and European clients. They are less expensive and equally beguiling but obviously the perfectly round, pit less, pricey perfect pearls are far rarer.
t be ignored. They are exquisite.
Jerusalem is an incredible city but when it comes to jewelry, there’s little doubt that Tel Aviv is the centre. Here there’s a major cutting-edge diamond industry, and economy speaking, up there with hi technology and pharmaceuticals.
In this “bubble city”, designers let loose their imagination and create pieces for the very savvy consumer.
One of many designers stands out. Oded Kashi, has a stunning shop on a small, elegant side street off the ‘uber’ boutique enclave, Kikar Hamedina.
A silver/black colored band of silk holds various brushed gold shapes topped with bezeled diamonds. And leather and gold seem meant for each other.
There is a freedom of form with the intricacy and exquisite finishing and exceptional gem stones expected at Oded’s shop.
The designs are so unique and expectedly costly, that there’s no wonder that he’s becoming a success in the USA.
Jewelry making come naturally to Oded, HIs Persian grandfather was a top jeweler who fled to Palestine in 1923. Oded’s father was also a goldsmith.
While at Oded’s boutique, a delighted couple who had commissioned a large pink cabochon tourmaline surrounded with small diamonds, were there to get the finished product. As I looked around, it was clear Oded’s creations are much bolder and forceful, definitely for less conservative collectors.
ir designer “I also have stones cut to order from rough material. And I see a woman, I have the urge to dress her up with my jewellery. I can see exactly what a plus it would be to her appearance,” Oded smiles.
But most of the time, he plans the designs specifically for the stone, hence his one-of-a kind pieces. “I buy stones like a child buys candies..just for the sake of having something that is delicious and beautiful.”
On the other side of Tel Aviv in Neve Zedek, at the old train station, HataChana, is a treasure trove of chic shops among them of course, jewellery. It’s a young, throbbing area. At Hella Ganor’s jewellery boutique which she shares with Dorit Gray, there is definitely something for every gem lover. Each has their own side of the airy, modern white gallery. Their designs, so completely different from each other.
Bold and gold, is Hella’s forte. In the business for over 25 years, she hasn’t allowed modern technology to by pass her and has made the most of a new technique. Her latest line “the NETLINE’ shows her computer design skills and 3D Rapid Prototyping knowledge. She creates jewels with shapes and forms that could never be reached with traditional methods. The system is based on geometry and architectural vision.
“It isn’t easy to create and manufacture but I get sheer enjoyment seeing the end results,” she says.
Now her working bench is the computer and her materials include gold, silver, stainless steel, wood, felt, porcelain and other industrial materials.
“Some of my models are hand made in the old school way,” says Ganor.
But now she sends a file to a 3D printer, out comes her piece using a plastic material. It’s then cast in any metal. Rapid Prototype has given her more freedom. Especially appealing are the stretching gold, rings, bracelets and neckpieces.
On the other side of the room are designs by Dorit Gray who joined Ganor four years ago and relocated here for two years Gray’s designs are lovely…and if there’s one word to describe them, it would be ‘polite’. Very genteel and ladylike, perfectly crafted with semi precious and precious stones, they are simply gracious. Her signature is a one carat round diamond set into a circle of gold with almost invisible inscriptions such as health, happiness etc. surrounding the outer circle.
Certainly there’s no competition between the two designers. If you are “bold at heart‘ , you’ll find Hella’s work on the left side of the room. For those who like easily understandable baubles, then the right is your direction. (Hella Ganor and Dorit Gray, Hatachana, Neve Zedek #15 97236040855
It’s difficult to leave this country without a souvenir, so just buy jewellery, a forever memory of a fascinating country.
By Barbara Kingstone
It’s only natural to think about security when planing to travel to Israel and other middle east countries. However, no matter where I wandered in the small country of Israel, the size of New Jersey, was I ever away of guards or guns. So from north to south, east to west, I never felt fearful although occasionally, I did see soldiers with arms however, being a travel writer I’m not naive enough to think that there weren’t many other security men and women dressed in mufti.
Instead of fear, I was treated to a plethora of the amazing historic a sites in both large and small cities and villages. So cultured are Israelis who love their music and theatre, it was an unexpected treat to attend a daytime concert with a world wide known violinist, see an ultra modern ballet at night, all in ultra imaginative and splendid venues. Also viewing fantastic high fashion by Israeli designers, eat delicious food which had been barely edible in the past and dwell at the many jewellery shop windows in both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on every block.
In Tel Avi, where I spend much of my time, there are now restaurants that con compete easily with major world cities. And certainly sampled as many eateries as humanly possible.
Every metre in this city of Tel Aviv,approximately 404,000 residents, is utilized. What was once a train station, the tired looking area is now a swanky section called HataChana. Although parts of the rail tracks are still visible as is an ancient freight car, never allowing any visitor to forget the painstaking effort to develop this city. The swanky shops that now have opened are eye candy. Ronen Chen, the well known fashion designer has a thriving shop as does Rasili and stunning jewellery at Hella Ganon (two women designers, Hella using computerization with gold), and SOHO, a colourful filled shop with Israeli leatherwear, fashion jewellery and brilliant hues of Italian imported kitchenware which I haven’t seen elsewhere. The Italian in the HataChana,Toto’s in mid Tel Aviv, Gilli’s at the sea shore, and Mool Ya near the sea (the most expensive but highly rated) are a few suggestions for a fine meal.
“Meet me at the Clock Tower” (a square in Jaffa, a stone’s throw from the centre of the city) has a cornucopia of small cafes offering mid eastern edibles and also inexpensive, mixed with sophisticated clothing and shoe shops, recently opened and updating the somewhat still scruffy old flea market.
With your new pair of shoes, take a walk down Rothschild Boulevard to see some of the 1500 UNESCO Heritage listed Bauhaus buildings, the largest number in the world hence the moniker, The White City.
Tel Aviv Museum of Art is an exemplary architectural masterpiece only outdone by the museum in Jerusalem. Both are triumphs of design. While at the former, there was an outstanding exhibit by German artist Anselm Kiefer and at the latter, just a walk through was breathtaking and the most unusual shapes and spaces I’ve ever seen.
At almost every store, hotel and museum, there is a security guard who looks through your bag(s) as you pass through the standard gate. Bold face security was when I wanted to go to the “boursa”, the Israel Diamond Centre in nearby Ramat Gan. I think it’s easier to get into Fort Knox. Luckily, I knew someone who knew someone who had a cousin who was a member of the Boursa. Without that connection, it would have ben impossible to et entry. with my passport which I was told to take. I went through what I is genuine security. Finally, through the gates, I was photographed for a “must have” visitor’s tag and had my fingerprints taken, now forever on their computer. Small showcases and a few retail stores dazzled with the stones. At the Boursa you could purchase loose or set diamonds from the purest white to fancy coloured, where round engagement rings are the most popular seller and where traditional ring design competes with the most innovated unique creations.
Opened in 1986, it is considered one of the largest diamond exchanges in the world although India is now a close second after learning this craft from Israelis. However, the jewellery world sees this huge complex of buildings, especially the 240 mete, Moshe Aviv Tower, as the ‘golden gate’ for purchases these sparklers and where a handshake completes the deal.
Cutting, finishing and polishing these stones is done in the area but in smaller, very secure and less flashy buildings.
Rough diamonds are imported and increase annually. When finished, they are exported to clients in USA, Hong Kong, Japan and Switzerland being their most important clients.
On the elevator up several floors, my new friend, Moshe Smooha, who is a member and been in the business for three decades, lad me to a sleek, whit door with huge dark lettering of one of the better known stone sellers. Yabukov Diamond Couture is where I took what I see as Diamonds 101 class from both Samocha and customer relations/brand manager Eliya Caspi. Yaubukov, one of the most respected merchants looked unlike a diamond establishment but more like an architect’s office. Glass panels separated the office and the board room was perfectly outfitted with the finest wood table and chairs. It’s here my education began. Naturally, I knew about the four Cs…cut, clarity, carats, colour.
Here I was taught why one diamond sparkles more than another. The faceting is referred to as hearts and arrows. And through these intricate and precise facets, a perfectly cut stone radiates unlike the lack lustre of a lesser stone. The light enters the top (or table) then reflects light from one side of facets to the other and exits from the top again. Proportions and symmetry of a stone establishes the brilliance and fire and it’s the cut which captures the light.
Colour is a matter of choice and goes from white or colourless (the most valuable and costly) to light yellow, cognac, brown and black. Pink, blue, green and rare red diamonds are precious as they are expensive. Staring at D, colourless) and ending at N to Z, the prices vary wildly.
Carat is the size and defined weight. As the carat size become larger, so does the pres. As for clarity, this means the absence of presence of flaws, either on the surface or inside and often can only be seen with a jeweller’s loupe. The rarest is the clearest without flaws. However, most diamonds contains inclusions such as pits, chips, cracks, air bubbles, feathering and non diamond minerals.
Shape is a matter of personal taste. however, still winning hands down, is the round stone. But princess, emerald, radiant, oval, marquise, pear, cushion and heart shapes have their admirers.
Both Samocha and Caspi agreed that most Israelis go for quality while North Americans take size…the bigger, not necessarily the better.
My head spinning from all the information and glitz, outside, across a wide street is The Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Museum and a short film explains where diamonds come from, found under extreme heat and pressure at the earth’s core, how they are located and the hard labour that goes into finding one small rough diamond among truck loads of dirt. There is also a few rooms filled with stunning, well secured, serious pieces of jewellery and another room of replicas showing the world’s largest and most famous diamonds.
With all this new information, diamonds will continue to shine for most women, including me and visiting two grand historic, amazing cities in a country just over 65 years, is another example of what is now part of this country’s amazing history.
by Barbara Kingstone
The French Polynesia Islands in the South Pacific are an extraordinary destination. And their sea treasures are equally impressive. The last time I was in Manihi, an island in the Tuamotu Archipelago in the South Pacific northeast of Tahiti, I learned that some of the rarest pearls on earth are found here; black pearls. I also met again Paris-born Cathy Schneider, who has lived on this volcanic atoll for over 20 years. Cathy knows a lot about mollusks and gives tours on the pearl farm. She also oversees the pearl boutique at the five-star Manihi Pearl Beach Resort that has stunning over-the-ocean cabins.
The waters in the Tuamotus are the only waters where black pearls can be cultivated because they’ve remained free of pollutions, rich in plankton and experience little temperature fluctuations. The black pearl industry is second only to tourism in importance in French Polynesia, so the government ensures the environment is controlled so as not to disturb the fragile balance of nature.
It’s a 10- minute high-speed boat trip to Takovea, the pearl farm. Our boat docks in the lagoon and we cross over a narrow plank to a small group of buildings on stilts. The Compagnie Perliere des Tuamotu launched in 1968 and one of the largest of literally hundreds of farms.
Although there are about 70 species of oysters that will make pearls, only three types produce the rarest and they are the white South Sea pearls near Australia, the small white akoya pearl found in Japanese, Chinese and Korean waters and the black pearl in this part of the world.
The black-lipped oyster, Pinctada Margaritifera, produce pearls that range in color from gray to white and aubergine to magenta, bronze, green and deep black. The darker, the more expensive.
“Maintenance takes up 60% of the time,” Schneider tells me. “If it’s not done properly, the shell will not grow.”
Diagrams show oysters organs, the gonad being most important. Schneider holds up a “collector” which looks very much like black steel wool but softer and more pliable. Baby oysters, or spats, which haven’t been eaten by predators, are gathered in the collector. They are then fertilized in one of the two stations in the lagoon.
The young oysters spend up to a year in the collectors before they are transferred to rearing baskets. Over the next year, they are regularly checked and moved to bigger nets as they grow. When they are strong and healthy, at about age two, a technician delicately pries open the mollusk, makes an incision in the gonad, and implants a spherical head.
A top grafter can do about 300 shells a day. The beads vary in size and are from mussels imported from the Mississippi and Tennessee river valleys. Irritated by the bead, the oyster secrets a substance called nacre, which builds up around the nucleus and forms a pearl.
Before 1978 few people knew about Tahitian black pearls. Now there’s a greater awareness of black pearls among jewelry collectors.
There are several important features to look for when purchasing black pearls. Color should include the base color of black or gray with hints that range from peacock green and eggplant to blue, pink and gold (champagne color). Size counts. Black pearls seldom are as large as the South Sea pearls and range from 8mm to the occasional and very costly 21mm. Lustre depends on the quality of the layers of nacre. Light reflecting from the surface gives a pearl its shine and brilliance. Shapes go from perfectly round, semi round, ringed, baroque and button. The most perfect pearl has no pits, scratches or stains on the surface. But these are very rare so slight depressions are considered “natural perfections.”