Genuine Kasumis are freshwater pearls are produced only in one place, north of Tokyo, at Lake Kasumi-ga-Ura, Japan. Production, never high, paused because of environmental conditions in the '80s, and resumed a decade later. They are prized for intense orient and luster and spectacular natural colours (white, champagne, pinks, purples, bronze).
The shape is off-round to baroque, and the skin of the pearl will be rippled or even wrinkly, like a raisin. The more deeply wrinkled, the less valuable the pearl; some are extremely furrowed, but they should not have dark pits, blotchy spots, or areas where the nacre is uneven.
Here's a fine Kasumi necklace (11.5mm-14.3mm) from Kojima Company; price, $6,300. Breathtaking and instructive as a benchmark; you can see the liveliness that have made Kasumis collectors' darlings.
|Kojima fine Kasumis|
Enter, ca. 2009, the Chinese, who set out to culture a very close look-alike by creating a hybrid of two freshwater mussel species (Hyriopsis Schlegelii and Hyriopsis Cumingii); the product is called "ripple pearls" or "Kasumi-type pearls", and sometimes "China Kasumi".
As the Chinese mastered the cultivation, price has dropped from the initial lots, making a gleamy strand available at the price of a lot of costume jewelry. They are making big ones (using bead nucleation), from 9mm up to gumball 15mms.
Pearls of Joy, a reputable vendor, have a number of deep coppery-pink strands on sale, with free shipping, till year-end. This 11mm-15mm strand is $297; plus $30 for stringing and a clasp. (This exact strand may be sold; there are similar ones listed.)
If I were ordering, I would ask which of the strands have the best and most even colouration; it is hard to see on a monitor. (Le Duc is threatening to put a pearl blocker on my Mac!)
|Pearls of Joy ripple strand|
The Kasumi-type is also available in a softer palette. Kojima Company, who are also having a 15% off sale (and $20 to ship anywhere) showed this dreamy peach/pink ripple pearl strand with its enchanting array of colours; price, $504 (minus 15% during sale). Stringing and a basic clasp at no charge.
|Kojima ripple pearls in soft colours|
Catherine Cardellini, an Australian vendor, lists dozens of ripple pearl strands on her site. She often makes her necklaces with tiny spacer beads rather than knots, but will string with classic knots at times, or on request.
See the search option at the bottom of the page if you know what you're looking for. I entered "ripple". I have not examined her pearls, anyone reading who can give your take?
These huge lavender ripples (13mm to 15mm) are one of many listings; price, about $900 US, plus shipping.
|Catherine Cardellini lavender ripples|
A pair of earrings brings you ripples without such a big investment; I often advise women to choose a pair of top-quality earrings or pendant instead of an 'OK' necklace.
My photo at far right shows 14mm pinky-purple Kasumi-type pair, made by the wonderful Québecoise jeweler Céline Bourré of Kokass, have nearly smooth skins and wild iridescence; I could not have afforded a strand of that quality!
Kojima Company currently offer a Chinese iridescent ripple pair set in rhodium-plated silver for $162 (sale price, about $138):
A Christmas gift to ones' self? I don't see why not; haven't you been a very good girl?