Pearls: A ripple of interest

A pearl moment: "Kasumi-type" or "ripple" pearls. My take is, interesting choice for the woman who does not want (or already has) the more classic whites or greys.

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):

Women will always love their pristine, elegant Mad Men round whites, but if you would enjoy striking pearls you can wear with casual clothes, full of colour and character, catch on to ripples. 

A Christmas gift to ones' self? I don't see why not; haven't you been a very good girl?



Susan B said…
I'm much preferring "irregular" pearl shapes and colors these days. You've again found the most amazing pieces!
I grinned when you mentioned Le Duc was considering a pearl blocker! Perhaps you can get an app for an IPhone instead.
Lovely pearls!
LPC said…
Oh man. Those lavender pearls are AMAZING.
Madame Là-bas said…
The pastels and the lavenders are so pretty. I bought my daughter one Tahitian pearl last year in Papeete and I notice that she is wearing it often.
So very beautiful - thanks for sharing the links!
rb said…
Oh, the Kasumis are so beautiful. Even in photos they kick the other pearls' b*tts.

I am lucky to have a few from Kojima. They are my favorite to look at when standing in line. I never tire of them - each pearl is completely unique.
Gretchen said…
I want, I want, I want....those lavender ones are my favorite, but I would gleefully take any of these. I think I know what I'll be saving up to buy myself for a 50th birthday gift! Your earrings are delicious. I can understand Le Duc's pearl blocker. You manage to find the most exquisite pieces.
Cornelia said…
Breathtaking is right. I agree that a pearl blocker is needed for your computer... very soon. If only to keep me from wanting something that I never heard of before. :)
Jean S said…
LOVE these; thanks for posting.

And the "pearl blocker" gave me a chuckle, too.
Pearlescence said…
White ripples are also beautiful, as are the more delicate shades - the soft apricots and lavenders, while some I have had in stock show iridescent blues and greens and golds as well.
They first appeared only three years ago at the September Hong Kong Gem show. Nerida of Pearl Perfection in Australia and I found a hank of six strands hidden on a stand. We grabbed them and had three each which sold within a couple of weeks. Those were the first few on the market, and we had to wait a year for more. Now there is a flood (many on eBay) and many are very poor quality, with big black holes, bad shape. poor lustre.
Some are very rippled surface and satiny, while others are nearly smooth and very high, metallic lustre.
With such a flood of bad pearls it is sensible to source from reputable sellers who buy in person to ensure they are getting quality.
Duchesse said…
une femme: Thank you, there are always interesting things happening in the pearl world.

hostess: He was kidding; besides, I don't have an iPhone.

LPC: Doubly so with grey hair ;)

Mme: Always great to see your choice appreciated!

Janice: Usually I only link to vendors with whom I have done business or for whom I have credible referrals, but I think the two 'newbies' have good reps.

Gretchen: Thank you, I enjoy exploring and learning

Cornelia: But then where would we be, utterly bereft?

Jean S: Kasumis used to be a tiny corner of the collector's world but the ripple 'cousins' are rapidly gaining profile.

Pearlesence: I would have loved to have seen those blue flashes! And I second the uh, lack of love for the flood of ghastly eBay listings. I had included a certain eBay vendor's product in this post, as an example of low quality-but then realized it might read as libelous.

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