Working with American pearls is really one of the most exciting ventures I have embarked upon since starting The Pearl Girls five years ago. I started this pearl company because I wanted to offer gorgeous pearls at amazing prices to women in the U.S. I have traveled abroad (and continue to!), made great contacts and I have created a line of pearls that I truly felt every woman needs to own. I stay true to that original vision!
However, almost six months ago, I was approached by some t.v. producers curious to know what pearls were available in the U.S. I had visited the only cultured pearl farm in the U.S. and I saw that their production was pretty non-existant (although the farm is tons of fun to see!). I kept putting these producers off. I was honest when I said, "Nothing is happening in the U.S. with pearls!" But, it did cause me to rethink what I know about working with all american pearls.
Since then I have connected with pearls suppliers, researchers and divers right here in the U.S. and I have learned something important: there is not much happening with round pearls in the U.S.! U.S. pearl farmers just could not compete with our Chinese counterparts in our ability to create many round pearls. And, if all factors are the same: luster, surface quality, etc., round is the most preferable shape to pearls. So, from the perspective of round pearls, there is nothing happening in the U.S. with pearls. Round pearls are just difficult to find! But there is a little something happening with pearls in the U.S., after all!
The export of U.S. mussel shells is big business. Rather, it used to be big business. International cultured pearl farms like to use our gorgeous shells as the nucleus to their saltwater cultured pearls. In recent years, they have started to experiment with other materials but, in the past, exports were HUGE! And searching for all of those mussel shells results in something miraculous.. the discovery of natural pearls! Many divers and some suppliers have hoarded these natural pearls. So, there are pearls to be found in the U.S. And these pearls have been discovered by a devoted group of U.S. pearl divers. The best part? These pearls are not round!
Yes, I believe that what some people thinks makes them different, I find truly spectacular. These pearls come in nuggets, feathers, hearts, angel wings and rosebuds. So, what makes them different is truly something unique!
I have finished designing the signature Southern Living necklace featuring these all natural (all-southern) American pearls along with some American mother-of-pearl. And now I am working on the designs for our collection launching January, 2014!
Today I am off to Tennessee to meet with this wonderful group of pearl divers and to work on my line. This is what I have sketched out so far (with more to come!). I figure if I am going all American, I am truly going to go all-American by using all findings made in the U.S.A. and, of course, making all of the jewelry right here too!
I'll keep you posted!
October 28, 2013