This year we gathered on Friday evening in Pacific Palisades in a mansion that had so many rooms I lost count.
The ceilings must have been 40 feet tall and the arches framed the sky with grandeur.
Friday night was a champagne toast to the moderators of Pearl-Guide.com : Blaire Beavers and Caitlin Williams.. both are experts on pearls and lovely, warm women of MANY talents.
These amazing designs feature Chinese fresh water souffle pearls artfully carved out, polished and adorned with tiny pearls or gemstones.
These designs are the brainchild of Hisano and she even won the CPAA Orient Award last year.
We started gathering again early Saturday morning for a full day of presentations. Jeremy and Hisano took us on a video tour of their epic adventure to Flower Island in the Philippines earlier this year. They visited the Jewelmer pearl farms. Jewelmer, famous for their gorgeous South Sea pearls and their tireless pursuit of perfecting the golden pearl. They are culturing thousands of strains of algae in their laboratories to find the perfect diet for their pinctada maxima oysters to feed on!
Next up was Douglas McLaurin of the Sea of Cortez pearl farm in Guaymas, Mexico (where we visited just over a month ago).
Douglas is a very talented public speaker, and a gifted teacher. He taught us more about the history of the Sea of Cortez, the natural abundance and near extinction of the sea life there.
He outlined data they collected in the first ten years of their work showing the DRAMATIC repopulation of native oysters and how the rest of the sea life in the area benefitted!
By gathering and fostering the remaining oysters in 1996, they were able to stop the extinction of the species!
It was fascinating as always and made it feel so good to be a offering their pearls for sale.
Watch the trailer for the National Geographic “World’s Funniest Weird Farms” made about the Sea of Cortez pearl farm, and how Douglas became Dr. Mollusk!
After lunch and bit of relaxation, we saw a presentation by Josh Humbert of Kamoka Pearl.. a world famous photographer, and pearl farmer from Ahe, French Polynesia. I have also travelled to the Kamoka farm on two occasions, so it is always a treat to see Josh’s photos of this magical atoll in the middle of the ocean. It is a place to dear to my heart.
The black pearls they raise, using environmentally sound practices are some of the most colorful and sought after in the world!
Their farm is powered with only solar and wind energy, and they let the fish populations clean the oysters. This is more beneficial to the delicate ecosystem of the atoll than spraying them clean. Another example of sustainable pearl farming!
Celeste Brash, a celebrated travel author and Josh’s wife. She is in charge of Kamoka’s websales .. and keeping him in line
Douglas McLaurin brought a beautiful array of Sea of Cortez pearls.. and also kept us entertained with his "special human tricks"
Much of the fun of the Ruckus is getting dressed up, showing off your pearls, and admiring those of all the other ladies in attendance. Caitlin and Sheryl Goodspeed of Mauna Kea Moonlight collaborated on her pearl mushroom pendant. Barbara Somlo showed off her metallic Chinese fresh water pearl pendant. Cathy Dassler brought her sweater that she hand embroidered using hundreds of 2mm white round pearls and silk ribbon! Wendy Fairchild in her most color Tahitian pearls.. and a hand forged fine silver pendant with a Sea of Cortez baroque pearl made by Carlos Cabral of Guadalajara Mexico.. and the “line of ladies”.. I love and admire each and every one of them.. it is such a joy to see them each year, hear their stories and meet the new faces in the group!
Sheryl set up a table of her beautiful jewelry, and Saturday was also her birthday! Her husband Tom, played and sung songs to entertain us with Mikey who is a professional diver and deals in the nuclei used to culture pearls all of the world! He is also famous for traveling with a “suitcase” full of pearls!
Sheri Jurnecka brought her famous octopi pendants set with different outrageous pearls,and also a cast mermaid pendant.
We set up a little table to show our latest designs and we were really excited to share the necklace of the top grade of Japan Kasumi pearls from the latest harvest, as well as the “glowing from within” Sea of Cortez mabe necklace.
That’s Patricia Saab in the lavender blouse.. she also makes pearl jewelry and sells the world’s BEST string for knotting pearls and gemstone beads.. Check out her etsy shop!
It was a weekend to remember.. and recover from!
On Sunday everyone met at PearlParadise office in Los Angeles and feasted on the fruits of their pearl vault! Please see more photos on the Pearl-Guide Ruckus 2015 thread!
We are blessed to be a part of this lovely talented group of pearls! Thank you Jeremy and Hisano.. you are generous wonderful people.
My only regret is not taking more photos!
In 1991, long before a single oyster was nucleated here, the farmers of Cortez pearls spent a huge amount of time gathering what was left of the native Pteria sterna “rainbow lipped” oysters and fostering a repopulation following their near extinction.
The earliest chronicles of boat captains and Jesuit priests reported leagues upon leagues of pearl beds in the Sea of Cortez. These accounts were recorded after the arrival of the Spaniards following the conquest of Mexico City in 1523. Over-fishing by the Spaniards and the freshly created nation of Mexico led to dramatic losses.
The creation of the Hoover dam greatly effected the Sea of Cortez and led to near extinction of many species. For thousands of years the Colorado River had supplied fresh water to the Gulf of California. Upon the completion of the dam, that fresh water dried up and changed the salinity balance of the entire gulf, killing some species of fish and robbing all others of oxygen rich waters.
Click here for an article by Douglas McLaurin to read more about these fascinating historical events and learn about the great Japanese Conspiracy in the Sea of Cortez!
Pearls oysters/mollusks are the “canaries” of their environs. They cannot survive in polluted water.
Small scale pearl farms such as the Sea of Cortez pearl farm, Kamoka and the fresh water pearls grown in Lake Kasumi ga Ura Japan are actually GREAT for the environment!
In the case of Sea of Cortez pearls the farmers created a generous no-fishing zone around their farm and all species have flourished there, which in turn has brought greater health to the entire bay… (By giving shelter to fish, the populations have increased, which in turn makes the fishermen happier, which in turn makes a brighter community of people)
As I sit here looking out over Bacochibampo Bay I can easily see how bountiful this place must have been hundreds of years ago. The contrast of the quartz studded desert and the clear blue sea is the making of true paradise. Sonoran hospitality, warm smiles everywhere you look, and a calm easy pace of living has made this one of my new favorite places on earth.
Morning light on the fountain.
Native cacti in bloom.
A beautiful stained glass window depicting Cortez in our hotel.
A spur from a Spanish solider, part of Manuel’s collection.
I’ve been thoroughly enjoying our garden and especially the extra tourists a bird bath has attracted.
Our studio has also been a buzz of activity.. With several visitors stopping by to pick out their favorites. It’s such a treat to meet people in person after communicating with them online. I love putting faces and styles to names. I love that each lady (and occasionally a gentleman) brings with them a new story of what they do and what drew them to love pearls. I find that it’s often an auntie or mother who passed down the love of pearls and it feels great to keep the tradition alive and honor their memory at the same time.
Whilst enjoying this special place we call home.. I missed the show in Hong Kong last month.. But thankfully there were a lot of photos and videos taken of a very exciting forum of many of my pearl friends talking about sustainable pearl farming.
Here’s a link to Josh Humbert of Kamoka pearls giving his talk. He admitted he was nervous.. Not sure why, his family has been farming pearls on Ahe French Polynesia using only solar and wind power all the using farming techniques that help restore a beneficial balance to this diverse tropical ecosystem.. For decades! http://m.youtube.com/watch?
Douglas McLaurin of the Sea of Cortez pearl farm, probably my favorite blogger about pearls also spoke, please check out what he wrote about his time in Hong Kong. http://www.perlas.com.mx/blog/
My only regret about this forum, besides missing it myself, was that our friends, the farmers of the luscious Japan Kasumi pearls were not a part of the panel. Having persevered great hurdles, and brought the world organically grown fresh water pearls of superb quality, grown with the utmost care.. I hope to convince them to join in for the next forum.. and share with the world their special craft. It would be an especially important addition as most of the fresh water pearls of the world are grown in China and we know precious little about the environmental impact of this HUGE scale farming.
We here at Kojima and Pacific Pearls have long said: “Pearls are the canaries of their environment , without clean water.. There are no pearls”. It is one of our greatest joys to be working with farmers like these who are FINALLY being recognized for their environmental consciousness, and hard work!
PEARLS ARE THE ONLY THING IN THE JEWELRY BUSINESS THAT IS ACTUALLY GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT !
We’re very much looking forward to seeing these two farmers and 30+ pearl enthusiasts as we will gather in Palos Verdes at the ever generous invitation of Jeremy and Hisano Shepherd of Pearl Paradise for the annual Pearl Ruckus. This year’s Ruckus is set to be the biggest yet.. and I can’t wait to meet all the new people and see the treasures they bring to share. We will be bringing new pearls to share with the group who gather from far and wide.
In the mean time.. We’re feverishly trying to upload a bunch of new jewelry pieces we’ve been working on and many new pearly delights. Here are few photos of our latest acquisitions. Enjoy!
As we all gathered on a grassy bluff overlooking the ocean, these beautiful white parasols were instantly a perfect pairing with the deep blue skies and California sun!
Then came the greatest arrival I have seen to a girls own wedding!
I was too far away to photograph the actual ceremony, but I caught this one of the stunning Hisano in her post ceremony glow.
After the wedding we all drank champagne and feasted on caviar and appetizers at a private beach at the Rancho Dos Pueblos.
The dinner was quite the feast… nestled in this incredible open air barn with chandeliers and pearls on every table for us to take as party gifts! Toasts were made, cupcakes were devoured, dancing ensued and finally the shuttle brought us all safely home with smiles on our faces and a night we’ll never forget.
Thank you pearl people! You celebrate well.. and I am blessed to call you friends!
Congratulations Jeremy and Hisano!
The protective ninjas we always travel with are
handmade by the amazing Aki Morishima.
From Tokyo , we rode the train to see our dear pearl farmer friends at
Lake Kasumi ga Ura.
Next I spent two wonderful days in Kinugawa with my best friend, such a relaxing and much needed mini vacation.
And then we were off to Hong Kong for more pearl shopping and family time.
Directly following our time in Asia, I was super happy to join my fellow Pearl-Guide members in Malibu for a wonderful weekend of learning, sharing and laughing. As always , in gratitude to Jeremy Shepherd and Hisano Takei and all the people who make this my best pearl weekend each year ! I had so much fun this year, I forgot to take more photos. The pool was just too nice!