Category: News

Branding Pearls: Is This the First Truly Designer Gem?

Toward the end of 2013, scientists, pearl farmers, and consumers alike started searching for a way to learn more about their pearls and where each one is sourced. If you saw our last blog on this subject, you already know that scientists have discovered how to extract trace amounts of DNA from pearls, in order to determine the species of mollusk that produced it.

On the same track, another way to trace your pearls has arisen – branding. It is becoming possible for pearl farmers to brand their pearls, either with a small silver logo on the nucleus, which can only be viewed under an x-ray, or with an RFID chip. RFID, or radio-frequency identification, is similar to the process in which you would have your pet microchipped so that he or she could be traced back to you if they were to get lost. Each pearl chipped in this way would have a unique identifier linking it to the farm from which it originated.

Branded Pearls From Kamoka Pearl Farm that show their logo when x-rayed.
Branded pearls From Kamoka Pearl Farm show their logo when x-rayed.

Many designer-brand loving consumers may adore this idea, while many others may be asking “why?” The main goal for farmers like Josh Humbert of Kamoka Pearls is to be able to reach out to consumers specifically interested in producing eco-friendly jewelry.

Aside from the prestige of being able to say, with proof, that your pearls were sourced from Perlas Del Mar De Cortez, Kamoka Pearls, or any other high-end marine pearl farm, the main upside to this is emerging process is the ability to learn about the region in which your pearl was formed, and the methods around its creation. It is more satisfying to many consumers to say “this is my strand of black Tahitian pearls. The pearls were produced by Kamoka Pearls, which uses methods of sustainability and environmental farming techniques not seen by many other pearl farms” than it is to simply say “These are my black Tahitian pearls”.

With this emerging technology, consumers have a deeper connection to their pearls because they are able  to see photos of the exact farm where the pearls were produced, without ever having to travel all the way to Tahiti, the Gulf of California, or Japan. With this new step in tech, a pearl retailer will have the ability to educate the consumer even further on the purchase they are about to make. The retailer’s ability to extend this knowledge to the customer can also help to build trust and better relationships with clients. In addition to this, a gemologist or appraiser can give the customer a more accurate representation of value by providing this information. For example, if you were to buy a set of branded pearls, you would still have electronic information about their provenance via x-ray or microchip after they have been handed from generation to generation and their future owners had long forgotten where they came from.

The downsides, however, are numerous (at least for the time being). Both the logo method and the RFID chip are pricey, raising production costs by 2-3 dollars a pearl, something that many pearl farms will not be able to afford if the idea does not catch on with the majority of consumers. While many customers would be interested in hearing this information, there is no guarantee they will also be willing to pay the increased retail price for a branded pearl. Another thing to consider is that this process is nearly impossible for freshwater pearls, which make up the majority of pearls on the market today. Since most freshwater pearls are nucleated with mantle tissue only, rather than a shell bead as with saltwater pearls, there is hard nucleus to attach a brand or RFID chip to. Freshwater pearls already sell for a more commercially affordable rate to the general public than do saltwater pearls. If the majority of marine pearls were to become branded, this price gap would increase. Would this damage the market by causing more consumers to choose the less expensive freshwater pearls, or would sales of saltwater pearls increase as more pearl farm education is spread through branding?

Only time will tell.

source –

Pearl on a Map

Natural Pearls are Demanding Center Stage – Part 2!

If you read our last blog, you learned all about some of the more unusual types of natural pearls. But, those beauties don’t even begin to cover the natural pearl market, which has been re-emerging in recent years. Many collectors like to have natural strands because of their rarity, and the “untouched by man” beauty natural pearls possess, while more still are attracted to natural pearls because of their history. Pearls last forever, and many collectors like the connection to the colorful pasts and experiences that previous wearers of the pearls have had. It truly is the romance and history that is drawing natural pearls back into the market. These jewels can fetch extraordinary prices, and in 1999, a strand of pearls worn by Marie Antoinette and later owned by Barbara Hutton sold for $1.6 million in a Christie’s auction.[quote float=”left”]In 1999, a strand of pearls worn by Marie Antoinette and later owned by Barbara Hutton, sold for $1.6 million in a Christie’s auction.[/quote]

Composed of 44 graduated pearls, this necklace, amongst Marie Antoinette’s other jewels, were some of the only surviving relics from her reign as the last Queen of France. The history of this necklace began in the hands of Anne of Austria in the 1600s. Passed from generation to generation, the necklace was inherited by Marie Antoinette and remained in her possession until her incarceration in 1792, when she gave many of her jewels to Lady Elizabeth, the wife of the British ambassador Lord George Leveson-Gower in hopes that she would hold them in safe keeping until she could make her escape. That day never came. It is unclear the path that this necklace traveled between that date and when it was purchased for Barbara Hutton as a wedding gift from Cartier’s of New York in 1933.

Marie Antoinette/Barbara Hutton Pearl Necklace
The necklace originally owned by Marie Antoinette, with a turquoise and diamond clasp. When sold in 1999, the necklace featured a mine-cut diamond cluster clasp.

The provenance of these beautiful pieces is, to be sure, a large consideration in their ultimate cost. The natural pearl market broke another record when again in 2007, not one but two natural pearl necklaces sold for over $4 million each. [quote float=”right”]Again in 2007, not one but two natural pearl necklaces sold for over $4 million each. [/quote]The Duchess of Windsor necklace sold for $4.82 million by Sotheby’s. Composed of 28 natural pearls, a diamond clasp, and a large baroque enhancer, this necklace was originally owned by Queen Mary, wife of King George V. King George then gave it to his wife, the Duchess, and it was eventually given to her son as a gift, and later sold in 1987 when Calvin Klein bought the necklace for Kelly Klein, who was his wife at the time.


The enhancer often worn with the Duchess of Windsor necklace
The enhancer often worn with the Duchess of Windsor necklace.
Duchess of Windsor Pearl Necklace
The Duchess of Windsor pearl necklace.

The pearl set known as the Baroda Pearls sold for $7.1 million in a Christie’s auction. Frequently documented as “the most important pearl necklace in history,” the Baroda necklace and matched earrings, brooch, and ring contains pearls that have passed through many generations of Indian maharajas. The necklace, in its original state, contained seven strands of perfectly matched pearls of legendary quality. It was the Indian culture that first deemed the large, round, blemish free pearl – like those that still command the highest market prices today – “the ideal pearl.” The necklace in its current state is a double strand, featuring the largest and most high quality pearls from the 4th-7th strands of the original necklace.

Maharajah Pratapsingh Rao Gaekwad wearing the Baroda pearl necklace in its original state. His wife, Sita Devi, is in the background.
Maharajah Pratapsingh Rao Gaekwad wearing the Baroda pearl necklace in its original state. His wife, Sita Devi, is in the background.
The Baroda Pearls
The Baroda Pearl set sold in a 2007 Christie’s auction.

Probably the most well known pearl in American history is the La Peregrina, which means “The Pilgrim” or “The Wanderer” in Spanish. It was probably most well known for the time is spent with actress Elizabeth Taylor. It was gifted to her by her husband, Richard Burton.[quote float=”left”]In 2011, the famed La Peregrina sold for an astounding $11.8 million.[/quote] When she received the pearl, it came with a booklet documenting the pearl’s history, from the time of its discovery by a slave in the 1500s until the time she bought it. The magnificent gem had spent some time as part of the Spanish royal gems, and was eventually given to Mary Tudor of England by Prince Phillip of Spain as an engagement present. It was during Elizabeth Taylor’s ownership of the pearl that it was set into the beautiful choker it is still seen in today. The choker part of the piece also contains natural pearls, separated by large, decorative ruby and diamond pieces. The design was inspired by a painting of Mary Queen of Scots. This queen of pearls made history when in 2011, the famed La Peregrina sold for an astounding $11.8 million.

The La Peragrina and Choker Elizabeth Taylor had it set in
The La Peregrina and Choker Elizabeth Taylor had it set in.
Elizabeth Taylor wearing the La Peragrina
Elizabeth Taylor wearing the La Peregrina.

These necklaces weren’t the only natural pearl pieces to fetch prices upwards of a million dollars. In fact, in 2012, Christie’s auctioned off three pearl necklaces, ranging in cost from $1.7-$4.7 million dollars, and one for $1.4 million in 2013. It looks like, despite their rarity and staggering cost, these amazing natural pieces are still present in the market and will be for some time.

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The World’s Most Expensive Pearls (Part 2)


Upcoming Film: Power of Pearl

Boy, are we ever excited to see this documentary, due out in January 2015. It will explore the lives of pearl farmers in 11 countries and the footage we’ve seen is nothing short of spectacular! Check out the trailer below, and don’t forget to support the film!

Power of Pearl Sizzle from On The Reel on Vimeo.

Check out!

Big news from our little business!

As many of you who have shopped with us may know, Pearls International is a small, family owned company. These past couple of months have been very, very busy for us and we are excited to announce that we have just taken a very big step in growing our business!

Blank slate, no floors, old paint. Jim and Marty survey the battlefield.

Pearls International now has two locations to serve you! We have been dreaming of opening a new store for quite some time, and have just recently been given that opportunity. A storefront we had our eye on went out of business due to retirement, and we were happy to fill the spot. Little did we know, we had our work cut out for us. Our first step was to grow our staff – two stores requires twice the Pearl Girls! If you have been around the Daytona Beach Shores location, you may have seen some of our new girls learning the ropes of working in a jewelry store and learning all about our wonderful selection of different shapes, colors, and sizes of pearls! Next, we had to get the new location ready to bring in our inventory. This involved pulling up the layers of flooring (all five of them!) so we could lay down our new tile, painting walls, refurbishing jewelry cases, designing displays, and whole LOT of cleaning – all while keeping our first location running smooth for our wonderful Daytona Beach Shores customers.

The covered cases, a little mishap with the paint
The covered cases, a little mishap with the paint
Putting up the new chandelier!
Jim and Marty put the finishing touches on the store, about 5am the night before the Grand Opening! There were MANY all-nighters.
Jim and Marty put the finishing touches on the store, about 5am the night before the Grand Opening! There were MANY all-nighters.

So, after many all-nighters and some unexpected bumps in the road, we are happy to announce that our Grand Opening was a success! Thank you to everyone that joined us in our ribbon cutting ceremony on November 15th, and if you haven’t seen the new store yet, please stop by! We would love to see you. You can find us at 177 East Granada Blvd, Ormond Beach, FL 32176.

The finished product! Visit us soon to get a better look!
The finished product! Visit us soon to get a better look!

Don’t forget, Valentine’s Day is coming up, so stop by either of our convenient locations this month to add your favorite items to your Wish List! See you soon!

DNA Fingerprinting of Pearls

Late last year, a scientific development in the pearl world was made. It is now possible to extract DNA from pearls (in a very non-damaging manner) to track which original species of oyster that produced the pearl. It only takes about 10 millimeters of material that is drilled from a pre-existing hole in the gem to be able to extract enough usable DNA.

DNA being extracted from a South Sea Pearl
A scientist uses a very small drill to remove DNA from this pre-drilled pearl.

So…why would we want to do this?

Historians are interested in this process because it can tell us more about historically significant gems. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know what animal produced the gems worn by queens of the past? Also, it gives jewelers and owners of pearl jewelry a reliable way to know more about the jewelry they sell and to gain insight into the provenance of each priceless gem. It’s a pretty amazing concept, when you think about it! Scientists are already planning the next step of this process, which would be about tracking the region, and perhaps even the specific lagoon, lake, or river where your pearl was produced!

PLoS ONE Scientific Journal

It’s Recycling Time!

(This post is part of our blog series that deals with Pearls International’s take on social and environmental responsibility. For more information on how Pearls International gives back, please click here.)

Pearls International is happy to introduce our new recycling program. This summer we are making an effort to be more environmentally-friendly. We now have two big recycling bins located at the back of our store and we’re ready to start this mission! Recycling cans, plastic, cardboard, paper, and other eco-friendly materials is a great way to help the earth become more beautiful, and beautiful is definitely something we appreciate around here!

Like many people, recycling often gets pushed to the bottom of our “to-do” list, but we felt the urge to make a change for the better. By creating this new recycling program, we hope our customers follow in our footsteps and find their own ways to be kind to the planet.

                                                                                   Recycle logo

Recycling is easy! Just call your local waste-management facility to get started, then set aside a separate bin for recyclables and you’re good to go! Our new recycling program is the first step to making Pearls International more green. We hope you take the initiative to do the same.

Pearls International strives to embrace greener business practices. To read more about how we hope to give back to our planet, please click here

Pearl of Allah

Creepy or Cool? The World’s Largest Pearls.

When most people think of pearls they think of elegant pretty little beads that make amazing jewelry. Well, that might be very, very true but pearls can also look very abnormal. Although its rare, pearls can grow to be as big as an egg, or even bigger! They can also take on a wide variety of shapes and colors. Pearls of unusual shape are referred to as “Baroque” and many of them can be just as beautiful or more beautiful than round pearls are!

Believe it or not the pictures you see are real pearls made by real mollusks. Found in the Philippines, these pearls are the largest in the world.

Once thought to be the world's largest pearl, this is the Pearl of Lao Tzu, also known as the Pearl of Allah.
Once thought to be the world’s largest pearl, this is the Pearl of Lao Tzu, also known as the Pearl of Allah.

For a pearl to reach such a size, it takes many years, possibly hundreds! Because of their size these pearls could be worth millions – that’s more than a house! Can you believe that? A pearl worth more than a house? Well, it’s possible. The “Pearl of Allah”, weighs 14 pounds and is estimated to be worth $60 Million.

But would you believe that that massive natural wonder isn’t even the largest pearl ever discovered? Around a decade ago, a fisherman from the Philippines unearthed the massive pearl pictured below from a giant clam. Deciding that it would be an excellent good luck charm, he kept it under his bed all this time. Current estimates value this 75 pound, two foot long gem at around $100 million. Now that’s amazing. So the question is, are these massive, abnormal looking pearls creepy, or cool?

The world's largest pearl.
Two foot long, 75 pound pearl found in the Philippines.

Want to own your own jewelry-sized, one-of-a-kind baroque pearl? Check out our Aphrodite Collection!

Aphrodite Collection Header

Pearls International at Night

A Special Message from Pearls International

Well folks, the holidays are here again – are you as surprised as we are? Seems like time flies faster than ever here at Pearls International, and BOY have we been keeping busy!

If you haven’t had the chance, stop by to check out our STUNNING window displays, which include the first-ever ribbon sculpture in Daytona Beach Shores! All the girls knocked themselves out to decorate the shop this year, and we think it’s the prettiest it’s ever been!

As the year comes to a close, we like to look back and reflect on all of the great people who helped us get here. A BIG thank you to everyone who has supported our endeavors this past year, who has shopped in the store, hosted or attended a Pearl Party, checked out our website, who has cheered for us, stuck by us, and helped us to succeed for yet another year. YOU are the reason we can keep our doors open, and we are GRATEFUL for everything that you do!
Merry Christmas from Pearls International, and may your New Year be even better than the last!
-Pearls International
Baskets of Cultured Pearls

Pearly Whirly Pearl Fact – Pearls as Medicine

Kokichi Mikimoto, the person responsible for the popularity of the cultured pearl, is reputed to have swallowed two pearls every day from the age of twenty until his death to maintain and improve his health. Mikimoto not only knew women would love to wear pearls, but that we would smear them on our faces and ingest them!

The Chinese have used pearls medicinally for thousands of years. According to Chinese history, artists in the Tang Dynasty began using powdered pearl on their faces before they put on their stage makeup. This practice began to spread like wildfire and soon it reached high society. The Empress Dowager of the Ching Dynasty began taking pearl powder internally, along with applying it to the skin on her face. The alleged result: improved complexion, softer skin, and a more youthful appearance!

After a little research on which pearl powders are available to us today I came across a product called Levigated Pearl Powder.

“Levigated” refers to the technique used to produce the powder. First they take a whole pearl and grind it in water using a circular motion. The very fine powder will eventually become suspended in the water. The suspended powder is then separated from the water and the remaining solids are left to be ground even further until they reach the desired consistency. This process also separates the center impurity (the irritant that started the pearl) from the actual pearl powder. The solution with extracted pearl in suspension is left to settle so the pearl will deposit at the bottom. The deposited pearl is then dried. This “levigated pearl powder” is almost nano-sized and is very easy for the human body to absorb.

Levigated pearl powder is considered a very powerful Shen stabilizer. It is said to relieve uneasiness, nervousness, anxiety and tension. It also claims to promote sound sleep, prevent nerve-disorders and nerve weakness, and is commonly used to prevent or overcome fatigue. Sounds like something we could all use a little more of!

Read more!

The Secret Metaphysical and Healing Properties of Pearls

Medicinal Pearls

Fossil Oyster

Beauty Etched in Stone

Pearls have ALWAYS been classic, and now we have proof that even dinosaurs thought they were the ultimate accessory! Well, maybe not, but we can dream, right?

Check out these awesome FOSSIL PEARLS!

The oldest fossil pearls known to man date all the way back 230-210 million years ago! Always rare, fossil pearls are almost always associated with marine bivalves (oysters). During a pearl’s fossilization, aragonite (the mineral that makes up most of the pearl) is replaced by calcite or some other different mineral, but in cross-section the fossils show the same concentric layering seen in modern pearls (American Museum of Natural History).

In Vienna, Austria a fossil pearl found is said to date back 16.5 million years and is from the Komeunurg Basin near Vienna. It was formed during the Miocene age within the giant mussel Perna Aquitania. Its growth was activated by the drilling action on a Gastrochaena bivalve which penentrated the mussel-shell. Research shows that the paleo-enviroment 16.5 million years ago, was a tropical estuary with swamp forests

What would you do with a pearl the size of a golf ball?! Experts at the Blue Reef Aquarium believe that a massive mollusk fossil that was recently found in the Solent, a strait separating mainland England from the Isle of Wight might go back 100 million years, is 10 times the size of your average oyster and could possibly be a concealing a pearl!

Fossil Pearls

A cross section of the larger pearl showing the concentric layers.

Fossil Pearl Layers

Three ‘pearls’ attached to fragments of Inoceramid shells. The fourth pearl in the lower right was unattached and is a badly formed hemispherical pearl.

Fossil Pearls


Now that we know it’s possible, we wonder if this fine specimen, discovered by Marty Stradley, owner of Pearls International, in a potato field in Idaho many years ago, might also contain a fossil pearl!

Fossil Oyster

Thanks to for their great photos!