High Schooler Wins Online Pearl Contest

Inspired by Linda McGill’s 1998 AGTA/Platinum Guild International Award-winning pendant set with a pistachio Tahitian pearl, Cheryl Bock asked her daughter Hallie (pronounced HAY-lee) to search the Internet for information on Tahitian pearls. When the 15-year-old high school freshman found Perles de Tahiti’s Web site (tahiti-blackpearls.com) and its win-a-pearl contest, she convinced everyone in her family to enter. Mom Cheryl Bock, 43, a genetic engineer at Duke University; dad Randy Bock, 53, a chemist; 11-year old brother Anthony; sister Rhiannon, 18, a college student; and sister Jiselle, 17, a high school senior, all e-mailed their answers to the quiz.

Five of the six family members answered all 10 questions correctly, which gave the Bocks a 50-50 chance to win the pearl. (There also were five perfect-score entries from France.) Hallie’s name was drawn, and she became the youngest person ever to win the Tahitian pearl quiz.

Hallie’s winning entry netted her an 8.5-mm loose “A-quality,” pear-shape, peacock-colored Tahitian cultured pearl from Perles de Tahiti. “The pearl isn’t that big,” says Cheryl, “but it’s a beautiful peacock color!” According to McGill, the owner of Jewelsmith in Durham, N.C., and a friend of Cheryl Bock’s, “the pearl has a fine luster, not a lot of blemishes. It’s nice. She wants us to set it up in a pendant.” Retail value is estimated at $300.

Hallie is thrilled. “I am so excited that I won the contest!” she e-mailed Perles de Tahiti. “When I got your e-mail [announcing me as the winner] in my mailbox, I was so excited that I screamed!” Hallie is considering her mom’s suggestion to have the pearl mounted in a drop pendant. Asked who else in the family gets to wear it, Hallie replied, “No one, except maybe Mom.” Mom says she’ll let Hallie wear it to her prom.

Pearl Quiz #10 attracted only 85 participants (39 from the United States; 32 from France; four from Canada; two each from Belgium, Denmark, and Monaco; and one each from Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom). Cheryl Bock did some homework to find that the odds of winning have been pretty good for all of the contests held so far. “Two heads are better than one,” says Cheryl.

The first Tahiti pearl e-mail quiz accompanied the launching of the official Perles de Tahiti Web site in 1996. Hallie Bock is the eighth American and eighth woman to win the quiz. Sandrine Coursager, 26, of France, winner of Tahiti pearl quiz #8, is the only person ever to win the quiz without a drawing.

Following are the questions (and answers) from quiz #10:

What is the official name of the Tahitian black pearl?

The Tahiti Cultured Pearl.

What is the complete scientific name for Tahiti’s black-lipped pearl oyster?

Pinctada Margaritifera, type cumingi.

What is the complete French name for the trade association that operates this Web site?

Groupement d’Interêt Economique Perles de Tahiti.

What is the export tax on all exported Tahitian pearls (in local currency)?

160 French Pacific francs.

Who was the Tahitian pearl necklace designer (name and country) who won top honors in the first Basel award held at Basel 2000?

Natascha Reichel of Pforzheim, Germany.

In 1996, what percentage of exported Tahitian pearls represented a quarter of the world’s unmounted pearl trade?

More than 95%.

Who designed the Tahitian pearl jewelry worn on TV by a Miss Universe?

Steven Lee of Hawaii.

What was the name of the wedding ring created in 1996 with a Tahitian black pearl by Paris jeweler O.J. Perrin?

Arena.

What pearl term attracted the most Internet hits on Altavista?

Pearl Handle.

True or false? A pearl harvest is considered good when there are three commercially acceptable pearls for every 20 grafted oysters.

False. A pearl harvest is considered good when there are three commercially acceptable pearls for every 10 grafted oysters.

The questions for the next Tahitian pearl contest will be posted on www.tahiti-blackpearls.com until midnight, Oct. 25, 2001, the eve of the 24th Poe Rava Nui International Auction, which takes place in Tahiti. The winner of the contest will be announced the next day following the auction.