This past weekend I spent in a mansion atop Mount Olympus overlooking Los Angeles for as far as the eye could see in any direction. It was truly spectacular. Complete with a glowing blue pool and an opportunity to reawaken my tennis skills (we kept score not in points.. but by counting the number of balls hit over the fence). The house was filled with pearl enthusiasts that have met through Pearl Guide over the last several years. Pearl Guide is an on line forum where people all around the world gather daily to update and discuss all matters pearl related, from new market discoveries.. to questions from novices.. to photos of fabulous creations.. it is the largest and most informative site about pearls in the world. The site is the brain child of Jeremy Shepherd (owner of Pearl Paradise) and moderated by the venerable Caitlin. Pearl Guide has fostered such a sense of community that some of it’s most avid members have created a tradition of meeting once a year, as a sort of pearl family reunion. These meetings are generously coordinated and hosted by Jeremy Shepherd and his staff at Pearl Paradise. This year’s Pearl Ruckus will be hard to top! For the opportunity to be included in this group of pearls.. I am eternally thankful. What a blessing to spend time with such a group of people, and in such a remarkable setting.
We began arriving on Friday afternoon, and each of us found a space in one of the ten or so rooms. I found my spot in the top top little turret room which was decorated like a Moroccan lounge with windows on all sides , tonnes of pillows and easy access to the roof through a midget size door. Friday evening the dinner was delicious! We lounged around like the royal family, slowly arriving from all the corners we had traveled from.
Saturday morning I enjoyed outside, the sound of the fountain, and delighted that there were baby bunnies in the garden. We all gathered for a series of presentations. The first from Josh Humbert of Kamoka Pearls. Josh showed us some of his incredible photos and talked alot about how his family figured out new ways to encourage ecologically sound farming practices throughout the atolls of French Polynesia. His presentation really captured what being at the farm on Ahe is like, for instance : how playing with the eyes of the fish you just caught is actually really funny.. and also reminding us all just how many people work so hard to bring just one pearl to the market.. how there is pride and love for all aspects of their pearl farm.. and just how rare that is these days.
Next up was Douglas McLaurin partner in Mexico’s only Pearl farm in the Sea of Cortez at Guaymas. Douglas is not only a biologist but a historian as well. He’s just a pretty brilliant and hilarious person all around.
He taught me a lot about the history of Mexico and the effects that politics and war can have on nature. HOW THE ENVIRONMENT DOES NOT RECOGNIZE BORDERS! Perlas del Mar De Cortez is a small farm, bringing only the finest pearls to market. This strand of near round pearls and keshi was a lovely example
Michael Rivers (AKA: Mikeyy on Pearl Guide) is the owner of The Pearler.com and also the supplier of nuclei to many of the worlds largest pearl farms. He shared amazing examples of some huge shells and also some great examples of how nuclei are produced and what makes them higher quality choices for pearl producers. Mikeyy is a easy going guy with great tales of adventure, having started shell digging at the age of 13 to being an international professional scuba diver.. he has seen it all! He was really great about the trail of coffee grounds that I accidentally sprinkled through his room!
At some point during the seminars we took a break and out came a pearl tiara we have been working on here at Kojima : for a contest on Pearl Guide. I promised the winner a bag full of pearly treasures.. I never expected that tiaras could make both men and women.. THIS HAPPY!
And finally lunch was served! After yet another beautiful meal I took a swim and all the ladies gathered in the dining room for a pearl stringing demonstration from Hisano the jewelry designer at Pearl Paradise. She was incredibly patient, and really did an amazing job of teaching the group some wonderful time saving secret techniques. It was a joy to watch everyone learning new tricks.
Saturday night was an elegant affair, the house swelled with more guests and everyone delighted in fine food and drink, candles were lit and the pearls were plenty.. I was too busy having fun to take any photos.. but I remember many flashes! I hope I will get to see some of those photos!
Some time on Sunday morning.. someone poured molasses into the air.. and the house full of pearls.. woke up a little less than perky. We all piled into cars and made it down to Pearl Paradise for some time sorting through their vault and more talk of pearls..
IT WAS A VERY FULL WEEKEND.. and ONE I AM VERY GLAD I DID NOT MISS! Thank you Jeremy, thank you ladies! Everyone there this past weekend is an inspiration to me!