Professional Jeweler Archive: Chiquita Banana Pearl

March 2000

Gemstones & Pearls/Gemology

Chiquita Banana Pearl

It started out well enough, then donned a permanent hat

The face of this South Sea cultured pearl has a blemish-free complexion worthy of a Lancôme model. The whole pearl was meant to be this way, of course, but it emerged from the oyster with a Jekyll and Hyde personality thanks to a baroque growth on top.

“The oyster pulled some sort of a trick, creating a whole new appendage” says Betty Sue King of Kings Ransom, Sausalito, CA, who owns the pearl. “We call her the Chiquita Banana Lady.” The allusion is not without justification. The current Miss Chiquita logo features quite a big hat, just like the pearl.

What causes a pearl to go awry like this? Antoinette Matlins, author of The Pearl Book (Gemstone Press, Woodstock, VT), says that in baroque pearls, pools of nacre collect and compound, growing into irregular and unusual shapes.

Such pearls offer great design potential. Paired up with a tapered banana-cut citrine, for example, this lady might be on her way to win a beauty contest.

  • King’s Ransom, Sausalito, CA; (415) 331-2650.

– by Robert Weldon, G.G.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications