Pearls



U.K.’s Orchira Makes U.S. Debut

Six-year-old Edinburgh, U.K.–based pearl jewelry maker Orchira Pearls has entered into an exclusive distribution relationship with Basant Johari, president of Kuber Manufacturing in New York City. Johari will sell the brand’s jewelry in the United States and the Caribbean. According to Johari, Orchira already has numerous clients in Europe and Japan and is launching stateside to fill the “market gap for high-level branded pearl ­jewelry,” he says. “In the USA, no brands can match the breadth of our designs.”

Orchira jewelry features freshwater pearls—though plans exist to launch Tahitians and South Seas—in sterling silver, 18k gold vermeil, and 14k and 18k gold. Gemstone accents include amethyst, citrine, chalcedony, and more. (Suggested retail prices start at $19.99.) What sets Orchira pearl ­jewelry apart from others? “A generous volume of pearls and gemstones,” says Johari, and multiple looks; a pendant, for example, can be worn as a brooch. —Jennifer Heebner?

Legal Beads

The Sutol 14k gold ring with a Galatea pearl with a turquoise nucleus and a diamond inset; $2,500; Galatea Pearl, San Dimas, Calif.; 800-609-6888; galateausa.com

Pearl artist Chi Huynh may well be over the moon (in Tahiti) from this recent announcement: The French Polynesian government has amended the laws governing Tahitian pearl cultivation, permitting the export of enucleated cultured pearls with gemstone beads instead of bivalve mollusks (shell beads) exclusively. Huynh’s patented Galatea pearls feature the former—which are hand-carved to reveal the jewel within—and have been restricted for export from Tahitian waters since 2006. Huynh’s production has been limited to Vietnam, where he learned pearling from his father. Huynh introduced his Galatea pearls to the industry in 2008. Suggested retail prices for pearls in finished 14k gold jewelry start at $650. —Jennifer Heebner

Gem of the Ocean

Carved Tahitian pearls start at $100; Kojima Company, Oakland, Calif.; 510-387-1188; kojimapearl.com

French Polynesian carvers are taking aim at larger and higher-quality pearls. In the past, most work was done on low-grade cultured pearls, where artful carving could significantly improve a blemished bead. But new carved pearls have very thick nacre with carving to 1 mm in depth and feature elegant tribal patterns.

Sarah Canizzaro, owner of the Kojima Company in Oakland, Calif., says with these pearls, buyers are getting more than a gem from the sea. “They’re getting a pearl, not just from Polynesian waters, but with a Polynesian motif that tells a story from the rich and varied culture of the islands.” Carved pearls from Kojima are available in rounds from 12 mm to 15 mm, with some drops and baroques as long as 17 mm. Prices start at $100. —Blaire Beavers