The Cultured Pearl Association of America Inc. is proud to debut what it is calling the most comprehensive pearl course written to date.
Dubbed Pearls as One, the online-only course was researched, written, vetted, and edited by the top pearl specialists in the world, under the direction of Pearl Paradise founder Jeremy Shepherd, who is also treasurer for CPAA.
“We believe that pearl education is our greatest asset and has been our greatest need,” explains Kathy Grenier, marketing director for Imperial Pearl and CPAA. “We can now deliver knowledge uniting all varieties with a common voice and language. We believe this will help resolve confusion that may exist among consumers and industry members alike.”
Developers Shepherd and Kevin Canning of Pearls of Joy, who developed the technical functionality of the website, worked on the course for CPAA. As retailers of pearls, they know firsthand about the dearth of pearl education in industry—particularly among sales associates.
“We needed a pearl course that was virtual, up-to-date, easy to maintain, and could be constantly updated,” said Shepherd at a private Pearl Paradise pearl event over the summer. Plus, by making it online-only, costs (as in printing costs) could be contained.
Covered in the course are South Sea pearls, Kasumi pearls, akoyas, freshwaters (traditional and new, including soufflé and Edison pearls), and more. Learning components feature both written and video segments, and new instructors can add material upon discovery to keep the learning process moving forward. To date, 10 full modules exist. Treatments are covered, as is merchandising and a retailer’s guide to better selling of pearls. Those who have taken the course say it takes upwards of 12 hours to complete, including tests. Most impressive is the inclusion of subjects that no one has addressed before in educational materials.
“What sets this course apart is that it’s the only one in the world that is completely up-to-date and offers a full overview of new freshwater pearls—the beaded and gonad-grown pearls that didn’t exist when the GIA did its course and Elisabeth Strack was writing her book,” adds Shepherd, referring to Strack’s 2006 tome, Pearls.
Also to come: a chapter about the returning Burmese South Sea pearl industry.
For now, the course is free, though creators estimate its value is about $600. Log on to pearlsasone.org and enter the code CPAA2JCK to learn, share the knowledge, and sell more pearls now.