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Akoya comparisons: Hanadama, Ten-nyo, and uncerted Gem quality

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
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Aug 14, 2009
Messages
22,602

Gemstonesrock

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Sep 16, 2019
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@yssie I could use your pearls of wisdom (the cheesy pun intended)! Andrew Moline has one strand of natural white, gem quality akoyas (7-7.5mm) in an 18" necklace **edited at request of OP**. He says he gets two strands of natural white gem quality pearls a year. He said the pearls have smooth skins with little or no blemishes (so not completely without blemishes). Pearl Paradise's price for natural white Hanadama certified akoyas (7.5-8mm) in an 18' necklace, plus a pair of matching stud earrings is **edited at request of OP**. My questions: do you think 7-7.5mm is a good size or will they look too small as I age? I'm 5'3" and petite and 47 years old. Also, in your opinion, are Andrew's gem quality akoyas going to always be superior to online vendors' Hanadamas? Andrew's strand that I'm considering is on left. Strand on right is from an unnamed online vendor and they are Hanadama. Thx for any help- you are clearly well versed in pearls!

201575167_214170097085944_5388948621780241165_n.jpg
 
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yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
22,602
Hello! :wavey:

I saw your post last night - wasn’t able to respond at the time, but I did see the original pricing. No worries, I’ll answer without explicit reference to them.

So my first recommendation would be to decide what “superior” means to you, and how far you’re willing to go to chase “superiority”. Assuming a round pearl shape - how do you personally rank these quality factors?
- Luster (sharpness of reflection, and I’ll bundle contrastiness in here as well)
- Strength of overtone (how bright is the iridescence)
- Pearl size
- Skin smoothness and lack of blemishing

And then... How much are you willing to spend to achieve excellence? To get tippy top marks in all categories, zero compromises, you’d have to go to Mikimoto and buy a Reserve strand. It’ll cost a leg, but IMO noone else can get enough zero-compromise pearls in the right sizes to make offerings at that sort of quality feasible. So you’re going to be compromising somewhat with every other vendor who’s accessible to us here in the US.

The Japanese market prizes luster as the top quality factor (after shape and colour are established). That means that very lustrous strands cost a lot more, even if you’re willing to accept some blemishing and some shark skinned pearls. In general, a definition of “gem quality” is going to be synonymous with “excellent luster”, and in general “pre-certified” Hanadama strands aren’t going to show gem quality luster. However, all my gem luster strands have more blemishing and less smooth skins than my pre-certified Hanadama and Ten-nyo.

It’s always easiest if you can judge in-person!! My first question: Are you near a Mikimoto boutique? If so it’s definitely worth a trip. They’ll be able to show you different grades of pearls, and you could find out what your eyes do and don’t appreciate quite definitively! Otherwise, would it be possible to buy both the Andrew strand and Pearl Paradise’s best of current stock (call in and tell them your priorities, and ask for the best strand they’ve got, don’t just buy off the site) and do your own comparisons, and return the one you don’t care for? Quality within Hanadama can vary significantly, and the “nonspecified vendor Hanadama” in that picture may not be representative of the nicest Hanadama that Pearl Paradise has available right now. If buying both is not an option I would choose Andrew’s as a safer bet for higher quality, and I’d definitely choose higher quality over larger - I don’t think 7mm is too small for any woman ❤️

Edit - Are you specifically looking for a natural white strand? Strands with a more pink overtone are preferred in Japan and in my opinion flatter more skin tones than natural whites. Pinking is a permanent treatment that doesn’t influence pearl value - natural whites are more rare but they aren’t worth more just because they’re not pinked. Different vendors define “natural white” differently, too - all vendors mean “no pinking”, but some vendors also mean “no bleaching” and other vendors mean “bleached but not pinked”. Bleaching is a standard akoya treatment - again, no impact on value.
 
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Gemstonesrock

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Sep 16, 2019
Messages
160
Hello! :wavey:

I saw your post last night - wasn’t able to respond at the time, but I did see the original pricing. No worries, I’ll answer without explicit reference to them.

So my first recommendation would be to decide what “superior” means to you, and how far you’re willing to go to chase “superiority”. Assuming a round pearl shape - how do you personally rank these quality factors?
- Luster (sharpness of reflection, and I’ll bundle contrastiness in here as well)
- Strength of overtone (how bright is the iridescence)
- Pearl size
- Skin smoothness and lack of blemishing

And then... How much are you willing to spend to achieve excellence? To get tippy top marks in all categories, zero compromises, you’d have to go to Mikimoto and buy a Reserve strand. It’ll cost a leg, but IMO noone else can get enough zero-compromise pearls in the right sizes to make offerings at that sort of quality feasible. So you’re going to be compromising somewhat with every other vendor who’s accessible to us here in the US.

The Japanese market prizes luster as the top quality factor (after shape and colour are established). That means that very lustrous strands cost a lot more, even if you’re willing to accept some blemishing and some shark skinned pearls. In general, a definition of “gem quality” is going to be synonymous with “excellent luster”, and in general “pre-certified” Hanadama strands aren’t going to show gem quality luster. However, all my gem luster strands have more blemishing and less smooth skins than my pre-certified Hanadama and Ten-nyo.

It’s always easiest if you can judge in-person!! My first question: Are you near a Mikimoto boutique? If so it’s definitely worth a trip. They’ll be able to show you different grades of pearls, and you could find out what your eyes do and don’t appreciate quite definitively! Otherwise, would it be possible to buy both the Andrew strand and Pearl Paradise’s best of current stock (call in and tell them your priorities, and ask for the best strand they’ve got, don’t just buy off the site) and do your own comparisons, and return the one you don’t care for? Quality within Hanadama can vary significantly, and the “nonspecified vendor Hanadama” in that picture may not be representative of the nicest Hanadama that Pearl Paradise has available right now. If buying both is not an option I would choose Andrew’s as a safer bet for higher quality, and I’d definitely choose higher quality over larger - I don’t think 7mm is too small for any woman ❤️

Edit - Are you specifically looking for a natural white strand? Strands with a more pink overtone are preferred in Japan and in my opinion flatter more skin tones than natural whites. Pinking is a permanent treatment that doesn’t influence pearl value - natural whites are more rare but they aren’t worth more just because they’re not pinked. Different vendors define “natural white” differently, too - all vendors mean “no pinking”, but some vendors also mean “no bleaching” and other vendors mean “bleached but not pinked”. Bleaching is a standard akoya treatment - again, no impact on value.
@yssie thank you for a such a thoughtful response! I decided I want to invest in a fine quality set of classic pearls: an 18" necklace and a pair of studs. I know I am not willing to go "sky's the limit" on the budget to chase absolute perfection. Mikimoto Reserve is not an option. But at the same time, I value high quality and want to buy a gorgeous enough set to minimize any "what if's" or a later desire to upgrade. I am at the stage in my life where I am only purchasing classic and very fine quality pieces of jewelry that I will leave to my children. I'd also rather spend my budget getting more quality than having a branded piece of jewelry.

My first priority is luster, without a doubt. I go googly-eyed over sharp, metallic luster that's well matched from pearl to pearl. Then overtone- particularly, silver. Then smoothness/blemishing (has to be eye clean to any person standing close to me) and finally size of the pearls.

I don't dislike the rosy overtone but I just loooove how the white pearls with silver overtone "pop" against my quite tan Asian skin. I know they are not more valuable and unfortunately harder to come by.

I've decided I'm going to have Andrew send me the necklace I posted above. I suspect based on your experience with his gem quality akoyas having exceptional luster that I will totally fall in love. I think the only potential issues are whether the pearls are large enough and whether the blemishes bother me. I also got photos back from Pearl Paradise and they do have two really nice looking AAA 18" necklaces. They have been pinked but the left necklace in photo (7.5-8.0mm) looks pretty white. The 8.0-8.5mm strand on the right is rosier. Any feedback on the PP strands? I didn't ask them about their Hanadamas but probably should. I'm posting the Moline necklace second. IMG_7847 (1) (1).jpg 198191377_1414933958862419_3520594964303855193_n.jpg
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
22,602
@yssie thank you for a such a thoughtful response! I decided I want to invest in a fine quality set of classic pearls: an 18" necklace and a pair of studs. I know I am not willing to go "sky's the limit" on the budget to chase absolute perfection. Mikimoto Reserve is not an option. But at the same time, I value high quality and want to buy a gorgeous enough set to minimize any "what if's" or a later desire to upgrade. I am at the stage in my life where I am only purchasing classic and very fine quality pieces of jewelry that I will leave to my children. I'd also rather spend my budget getting more quality than having a branded piece of jewelry.

My first priority is luster, without a doubt. I lust after sharp, metallic luster that's well matched across the pearls. Then overtone- particularly, silver. Then smoothness/blemishing (has to be fairly eye clean) and finally size of the pearls.

I don't dislike the rosy overtone but I just loooove how the white pearls with silver overtone "pop" against my quite tan Asian skin. I know they are not more valuable but harder to get.

I've decided I'm going to have Andrew send me the necklace I posted above. I suspect based on your experience with his gem quality akoyas having exceptional luster that I will totally fall in love. I think the only potential issues are whether the pearls are large enough and whether the blemishes bother me. I got photos back from Pearl Paradise and they have a really nice looking 7.5-8mm AAA 18" strand that has been pinked but in the photos looks quite white (left necklace in photo). The 8.0-8.5mm strand on the right is rosier. Any feedback on the PP strands? I didn't ask them about their Hanadamas but probably should. IMG_7847 (1) (1).jpg

The right strand is the better of the two from Pearl Paradise (reflections are more sharply outlined, and the blacks are darker - more contrasty), but I would definitely get them to compare that one to their best Hanadama in stock right now, if the Moline strand winds up feeling too small in-person.

It sounds like you know what you want and where you are and aren’t willing to compromise - which is fantastic! Please let us know what you think when it comes in!
 

Gemstonesrock

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Sep 16, 2019
Messages
160
The right strand is the better of the two from Pearl Paradise (reflections are more sharply outlined, and the blacks are darker - more contrasty), but I would definitely get them to compare that one to their best Hanadama in stock right now, if the Moline strand winds up feeling too small in-person.

It sounds like you know what you want and where you are and aren’t willing to compromise - which is fantastic! Please let us know what you think when it comes in!

Thank so much- I can now see what you are saying about the right strand. I'll see what they have in Hanadamas. Sorry to hijack your thread. I'll start a new one and tag you when I have more to share!
 
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