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August 1998

Gemstones & Pearls:News

Partly Sunny

Everybody's talking about pink pearls, but gray is on its way

Lips, feather boas and high-heeled mules blushed alongside cultured pearls in this spring's fashion magazine spreads heralding sweet shades of pink.

Bashfully bolder than white pearls' rosy luster, pink cultured pearls were a hit at this year's Basel Fair and scored multiple mentions in Wand Harper's Bazaar.A May W article, for example, features rare conch pearls – natural formations from Caribbean conch shells – in diamond and platinum jewelry by Fred Leighton.

More common and attainable are freshwater pearls, cultured in rivers of China and the U.S. "One of the reasons pink freshwater pearls are so appealing to me is they occur naturally in that color," says designer Cathy Carmendy of Santa Monica, CA.

When they're small and off-round, freshwater pearls are much less expensive than other cultured pearls, one reason they've achieved such popularity in department stores. For higher-end jewelers, some freshwater pearls are now growing to 9mm to 11mm – the size of a small Tahitian pearl. "A large freshwater pearl can cost as much as a South Sea pearl sometimes," says Carmendy. The price is not a deterrent, however. "All my large pink pearls have been selling really well," she says.

As for the future, the pink sun may be setting and giving way to steely gray. The moody metallics – achieved naturally in black pearls from Tahiti or color-enhanced freshwater pearls – have shown up in pearl jewelry this year from Basel to New York boutiques.

"Pink was last year," says designer Erica Courtney of Hollywood, CA. "The pearl of the season is silvery-gray. Mixed with gold, it gives you a two-tone look. It's fresh and new-looking. And it's not white."

– by Stacey King

Designer Cathy Carmendy uses 9mm natural color freshwater cultured pearls in her 20k amulet necklace and earrings.
Gray cultured pearls combine with a Tahitian black pearl and diamonds in this necklace by Erica Courtney.




Harper's Bazaarfeatures M&J Savitt's freshwater cultured pearl necklace in a fashion spread on the color pink in March.

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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