Black Pearls Have Gemstone Bead Nuclei

This year’s most outstanding addition to the gem world was premiered at The JCK Show ~ Las Vegas by gem and jewelry artist Chi Huynh, of Galatea: Jewelry by Artist, San Dimas, Calif., who exhibited black pearls with portions carved away to reveal gemstone nuclei.

For over 100 years, mother-of-pearl beads have been used to create bead-nucleated pearls, including akoyas, South Seas, and Tahitians. But 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. Although he regretted ruining a fine Tahitian pearl, it gave him the idea of inserting gemstone beads into a black-lipped oyster and carving it to expose the gem.

When Tahitian pearl farmers told him this kind of pearl could not even be attempted in French Polynesia, Chi took the black-lipped oyster to waters off the coast of Vietnam. After persuading experts in implantation that his idea could work, he attempted to grow black pearls using citrine, amethyst, and turquoise bead nuclei. Three years later, Chi harvested AAA-quality Tahitian-like (now Vietnamese) black pearls. They were so beautiful he began to question the wisdom of carving them.

But carve them he did, and the transformation is remark-able. Galatea has stunned the pearl world.