Tokyo Notebook

-・- From My Everyday Life to Japanese Culture -・- Why don't you see the real Japan, not the typical foreigners' version.

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20 2013

Where is Your Pearl Necklace? – 2

This time, I took it with natural sunlight at the window on cloudy day.

#This article is what I (who was a person with very little understanding of pearl) thought through the quest for pearl necklaces. Maybe, some of you have an appreciation for pearls, but please, no flames about my honest discussion.
#In the post, “pearl” means Akoya pearl cultured in Japan.

As I wrote in the previous post, I was disappointed in the consumer preference and product imbalance of pearl, but there were other reasons. The serious situation of pearl production in Japan also made me feel depressed. The trade prices of pearl plunged in this decade because of influx of low-cost freshwater pearls from China, and that led to a dramatic decrease in the number of oyster farmer. I heard nowadays, the industry even imports Akoya pearls, especially small sizes, from China and Vietnam.

I tried to forget about a pearl necklace, but the internet marketing blocked me from my effort. One pearl shop’s Internet ad was continued to be shown on my PC (I didn’t use that shop, though), so maybe I was vaguely thinking about it. Last month, I restarted to search pearls, then, I had a fateful encounter with a secondary processing company in Ise – Shima area in Mie Prefecture that is one of main producers of pearls in Japan.

The company purchasing all kinds of pearls from home and abroad and making pearl jewelry sells necklaces using old pearls called vintage which are kept in stock. Though my concern about buying pearls on line remained, I made a trial purchase and get 2 necklaces: (1) 3.5 – 4.0 mm baby pearls and (2) 6.5 – 7.0 mm“Koshi-mono (means grown over a year)” pears. They were locally grown (Ise – Shima) over 15 years ago in original Japanese Akoya oysters.
その会社は地元を中心に海外からも様々な種類の真珠を仕入れ、ネックレス等に加工して販売しているのですが、その中にヴィンテージと称して昔の真珠を用いた商品があったのです。ネットで真珠を買うのには不安が残りましたが、試しに2本購入してみました(これらのサイズは元々それほど高価ではないので)。一つは3.5 - 4.0 mmのベビーパール。もう一つは6.5 -7.0 mmの越物(核入れ後1年以上養殖されたもの)。どちらも15年以上前に日本原産のアコヤ貝を用いて伊勢志摩で生産されたものです。

My gamble was a complete success! Though the company calls them “vintage”, some people would think they are just old dead stock. However, I strongly thought they were worth buying for. Now I’m clearly aware of that I wanted products that made me realize how beautiful original our pearl was.

After the major shellkill in 1997, the Japanese Akoya was inbreeded with foreign one, and now almost all pearl oysters are hybrid. When using the original Akoya, the oysters had to be grown at least 18 months after inserting a nucleus, so all pearls were Koshi-mono in the past. However, now famers shortened the period (about 8 months) because firstly, the hybrid oyster can form pearl layer quickly and secondly, primary processing techniques improved recent years can keep pearls from aging deteriorating without growing longer than before.

The necklace with 6.5 – 7.0 mm pearls toned in white pink maybe isn’t gorgeous as one in a window of Mikimoto (which is also toned), but I think it’s touchingly lovely. On my goodness! We can’t make them again.
ホワイトピンクに調色された6.5 – 7.0 mm珠のネックレスは、ミキモトのショーウィンドーを飾る商品に比べればゴージャスさは劣ります。でも、可憐で美しいと思います。見る人が見ると、原産種にしか出せないピンクの干渉色があるそうです。何とも残念なことに、こういう真珠はもう作れないのです。

I must insist that I’m Not diminishing the value of pearls form hybrid oysters. I just feel attracted to ones from decades ago personally. I feel like I’m buying not only peals, but also our pearl culture in the past.

Since I made the necklace shorter than usual, I got the spare pearls, so to making use of them, I asked my friend to make pierced earrings and a pendant combining with a Tahitian black-lip pearl in the picture. Also, just days ago I placed a new order for a semi-long necklace using unprocessed natural pearls (no bleaching, no toning) cultured more than 20 years ago in Kumamoto with that shop just days ago. This time, I bought the pearls without holes including processing charge, and I have to wait for 3 weeks to get it. The farm of these pearls is gone now, and we can’t have those after the stock will be depleted.

I found myself among pearl lovers.

Meanwhile, I gathered pearl items in my house (I can’t find my ring and my mother’s choker necklace so far). I deeply feel sorry for the items because they are also “vintage”, but I had completely ignored them for a long time. Well, now I’m accidentally deep into pearls, but basically I have zero interest in jewelry goods.

I think many ladies who are reading the blog also have those priceless vintage pearls.

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