Tag Archives: Sarah Cannizzaro

The Tucson Gem Show 2014–Part 1

We are already in the month of May and this event took place in the month of February in the city of Tucson, Arizona. I have previously commented on our annual pilgrimage to this gigantic showcase & sales event, and every year you can find some new & different items: what’s new in the world of gems and jewelry? how about fossils and meteorites? Well, this year it was no exception and I take this opportunity to talk about some new people I met and their unique products.

Pearls, pearls…and more pearls?

In the subject of pearls we had several new revelations at the Tucson Gem Show. We had a chance to see and touch several new varieties of natural pearls from Mexican waters -thanks to our friend Edgar- including some very unusual pearls specimens from a species of snail (Pleuroploca gigantea); one of these pearls is what I would call as “Full Blooded Mexican” all the way to the name that Edgar christened it with:  “The Habanero Pepper Pearl”.

I had never seen something quite like this before. I do have to agree with our local vernacular poet Bruno Pablos: “the longer you live, the more things you will see”. This snail species is common on the Atlantic coast -from Florida in United States to Yucatan, Mexico- and is known as the “Florida Horse conch”. Their most striking features are an orange-red coloration and the unique pattern on their surface.

We got to see other pearls from this very same snail species, and they can be considered as “more beautiful” (this “Habanero Pearl” really has a huge size and unique appearance) due to their more appealing shape. This is yet another Pearl that adorns the beautiful coasts of Mexico.

Sea of Cortez pearls

Returning now to my pearls, we had opportunity to see some of the work of our friend Sarah Canizzaro of “Kojima Pearls” fame. She used our beautiful Cortez Pearls to produce with a beautiful Pearl Necklace accented with different gems. Each year we are fortunate to see and enjoy the new creations of many talented designers, but I really enjoy Sarah’s designs and discussing pearls with this internationally acclaimed Pearl-Fanatic. Kudos Sarah!

As a summary of this year’s gem show, I can state that it was a good year for our pearl sales: our traditional clients continue acquiring pearls for their jewelry unless there is a dramatic disaster – such as the Tsunami in Japan- which collapsed this important market for us for a couple of years. The Pearls that we had on display and for sale this year were of a slightly smaller size than other years, but the colors and luster were really exceptional.

In addition to the usual sales activities, we had the opportunity of sharing the “salt and bread” with some of the most important actors in the world of pearls, among them we have Jeremy Shepherd -the new “King of Pearls”-  (who we see together with Enrique Arizmendi, General Director of Perlas del Mar de Cortez), owner of Pearl-Paradise.com, fellow pearl-farmer Jacques Christophe Branellec (who appears with Sarah Canizzaro in the photo) and Managing Director of “Jewelmer” and our dear friend & gemologist Elisabeth Strack (author of the best-selling book “Perlen”) and who -by the way- just gave a very interesting presentation entitled “the first decade of the 21st century: is the pearl market changing?”. Several other good old friends were present at the dinner such as intrepid pearl-reporter Blair Beavers, Natural Pearl Mogul Jeremy Norris, and of course our gracious host Hisano Shepherd (another talented jewelry designer, also known as “Mrs. Pearl-Paradise”)… I have always has identified Jeremy and Hisano as some of the finest people I have ever met (and I guess I have been lucky to meet do many!) and the best hosts ever. I really thank them for inviting us to their annual Tucson Show dinner of Tucson and the famous “Pearl Ruckus” event. As alway, it is a pleasure to feast & dine with you all!

“Goodnes Gracious Great Balls of Fire” and the “Diamond Pearls”

Sorry, I could not avoid the pun when talking about these “Fireball Pearls”, but in a musical way. Some couple of years ago, these pearls of great size made their appearance at the Tucson Gem Show: they are being grown in freshwater mussels in China and were baptized as “Ikecho” or “Fireballs” (due to their likeness to a comet or fire-ball); this year the available amounts of these pearls caused a significant fall in their price. I am impressed when I see these huge pearls (sizes between 18 and 26 mm in diameter) with such a ridiculous price of $10-50 USD per pearl; clearly it comes to mind that the value of a pearl depends on its beauty (and these particular pearls I saw in Tucson I can say that they are not truly attractive, but you are free to disgress), its rarity (and it seems they are producing tons of these pearls) and quality (in the ones I inspected the quality was medium to low)… and so, if the price tells us something about these pearls I will just leave it to you it to your imagination.

A new Pearl that caught my attention is one that they called “Diamond Pearl”, this Pearl seems to be a variation of the “Ikecho” and I conjecture that the farmers introduced a faceted mother-of-pearl bead into the pearl sac of the mussel to bring you this unusual shape. How much is such a huge Pearl Necklace worth? Bleieve it or not, but it is hardly worth $200 USD, which to me is a clear reflection of what the people who are introducing this product to the market think about it: these are “costume jewelry” quality, never thought of as having GEM quality.

Well, at the moment I think have reached the end of this installment, but I will soon continue since I want to talk about mysterious “Cotton pearls”, a variety that is freshly “harvested” in Japan, and I also want to talk about a Canadian product that already has some time available in the market, but that few people know about and is “related” to pearls.

Thank you for your attention, I hope your valuable comments and I hope to see you soon.

Pearl Ruckus 2011

Well, this isn’t really a “freshly-made” blog entry (I actually had it in the Spanish language version of this Blog since August 9th) but have not had the time to translate and proof it. I know: in these days of “instant translators” (such as Google Translate & Bing Translator) it should really be easy to just pop-in your text, get it out and be done with it…but some of us prefer to do things the “ole fashioned way”: using our brains and typing text. So, here is my review of this year’s “Pearl Ruckus”…

In the previous entry announcing he would travel to Los Angeles, California, to participate in the traditional "Pearl Ruckus" organized by the American Pearl Entreprenaeur Jeremy Shepherd, in order to gather toghether friends of what is probably the most important international pearl forum on the Internet: Pearl-Guide.com

Hollywood: Pearls we bring to you!

So, keeping to our appointed date (from July 22nd to the 24th) we all met in a beautiful mansion near the hill with the “Hollywood” sign … you will have to please forgive me the lack of photos but my camera "died" unexpectedly and the few images I was able of taking were using a borrowed camera (Thank You Sarah!). A total of 18 people came toghether thanks to the true hospitality and generosity of our hosts Jeremy & Hisano; we all had the opportunity to share & learn more about our fascinating gem (the pearl of course) and the changes that are happening within this industry.


On Saturday 23rd we had 3 presentations and a special necklace-making session. Presentations were given by:

  • Josh Humbert, pearl farmer from Ahe, French Polynesia. Josh is a black-pearl producer that takes pride in his high quality pearls grown in an environmental friendly way. Josh explained his “biological cleaning system” (which he calls “the silent workforce”) based on the use of reef fish, which are used to clean his pearl oysters and avoid labor costs. This is a very interesting system that also allows his farm to avoid pollution increases the local fish populations.
  • Douglas McLaurin of Guaymas, Mexico, with a discussion of the positive Environmental aspects of the operation of a pearl farm in the Gulf of California. This activity seems to have had a very positive effect on the repopulation of the native pearl oyster species and that will be also be used to enhance the reproductive potential of other native species.
  • Jeremy Shepherd Blaire Beavers gave us a very interesting talk about the new Chinese "Metallic Colored Freswater Pearls" (which some have called "Edison Pearls") and that are now being offered through Pearl-Paradise.com.
  • Hisano Takei, a very talented designer, was responsible for a special “designers & jewelry workshop”, among which we could find Caitlin Williams (moderator of the Pearl-Guide.com’s forum) and designers Sarah Cannizzaro (from Kojima Co.), Patricia Saab, Sheri Jurnecka, Cathy Tran, Cinde Newberry, Wendy Weaver, and Marianne Carter…

All these activities are conducted in a relaxed atmosphere that made ​​you feel as if in a group of good old friends instead of a formal, business-like meeting… this was –of course- a matter of pleasure for us all: the pleasure of talking and sharing our passion for all pearls.

By the way, Sarah Cannizzaro also made her own Pearl-Ruckus blog entry, which you may enjoy here!

Pearls and More Pearls

We all had the opportunity to showcase our best pieces: pearls from all corners of the world … Josh had his "Kamoka" black pearls, including a huge 18 mm diameter cultured black pearl, Sarah Cannizaro designed a uniquely-original “pearl tiara” incorporating various types of pearls: kasumi pearls from Japan, Chinese freshwaters and even a Cortez Mabe Pearl (by the way: the tiara had a tremendous success among us), Douglas had a pair of very special pearl necklaces and a group specially “Cherry picked” Cortez Cultured Pearls from the 2011 harvest, Patty had a very long string of Cortez pearls (measuring some 50 cm in lenght!) and she also had a very nice necklace made with "Osmeña Pearls" (made ​​from Nautilus shell) and -of course- Jeremy had the opportunity to show us the reason why he is sometimes considered as the "King of Pearls": not only because he travels the world in search of some of the finest pearls, but because he had 6 kilos of the so-called "Edison pearls" (which I prefer to call “Metallic Pastels”).

A touching moment occured when Jeremy thanked Caitlin for her hard work at the Pearl forum and gave her a beautiful necklace made with natural “Basra” pearls from the Persian Gulf region, complete with certificate of authenticity.


To all who attended and made ​​this the very best "Pearl Ruckus" ever. And, very importantly, I want to Thank our hosts Jeremy Shepherd and Hisano Takei, who made ​​us feel –at least for a couple of days- as authentic "Pearl Kings and Queens”. Next year’s Pearl Ruckus is rumored as if it could take place in the Philippines, with Jacques & Christopher Branellec –of Jewelmer fame- acting as hosts … but this is still an unconfirmed rumor. Where will the Sea of Cortez Pearl go in the near future? We’ll just have to wait & see…

Finally, and totally out of the whole “Pearl Ruckus” theme… I took this picture of a sculpture made from scrap-metal parts (motorcycle parts, gears, automotive engine parts, etc.) made ​​in the image of the famous movie-monster "Predator" as it harpoons another terrifying movie-monster "Alien". We never knew the name of the owner of the Hollywood mansion were the gathering was hosted, but I assume –based on the presence of this "altar"- that somehow he might have been involved with this film series. Maybe.