They Said it couldn’t be done; Gemstone Bead Nuclei in Black Pearl

Chi Huynh, gem and jewelry artist of Galatea: Jewelry by Artist, San Dimas Calif., wanted to insert gemstone beads into Tahitian black lipped oysters. Pearl experts told him it wouldn’t work. “Why?” asked Chi. “Have you tried it?”

And the rest is history.

By far the most outstanding addition to the gem world was premiered at JCK Las Vegas 2007. Chi Huynh is best known for his diamond-in-a-pearl, in addition to his carved Akoya and Tahitian pearls. This year, Chi introduced carved black pearls, exposing the pearl’s nucleus. The surprise is that the nucleus is not Mother-of-Pearl.

Several years ago, while Chi was carving a Tahitian pearl, he accidentally carved too deeply, exposing the white Mother-of-Pearl bead beneath the black nacre. Lamenting over the fact that he had just ruined a perfectly fine Tahitian pearl, he suddenly got this idea that if he could insert gemstone beads into a black lipped oyster, he could then create a carved pearl that would expose the gem beneath the nacre.

Chi took that idea to Tahitian pearl farmers who told him that this kind of pearl could not even be attempted in the French Polynesian Islands. Undaunted by this turn of events, he took the black lipped oyster to waters off the shores of Vietnam. After persuading experts in implantation that his idea could actually work, he attempted to grow black pearls using citrine, amethyst, and turquoise bead nuclei. Three years later, Chi harvested beautiful AAA quality Tahitian-like (now Vietnamese) black pearls. While it was always his intent to carve these pearls down to expose the gemstone nucleus, he started to question his sanity of carving these beautiful pearls.

But carve them he did, and the transformation is remarkable. Carved black pearl nacre over citrine, amethyst, and turquoise nuclei, Galatea has stunned the pearl world.