A non-gem-oriented guy, I seem to be following in the footsteps of other gentlemen in making an extreme exception for pearls. This follows a long-anticipated holiday in the Cooks last summer.
Specifically, we fell in love with natural pipi pearls, perhaps due to their contrast with the plethora of black pearl offerings in the local boutiques. But mainly, this follows a lifelong appreciation for natural authenticity in all things.
We applaud what appears to be an increasing appreciation for natural pearls on this forum, although there is precious little on pipis. Certainly in the cultured world of size-is-everything, I can understand that these rare, albeit smallish pearls may suffer a certain sort of underappreciation.
Attached image is a trophy we came back with, 1700 pipis 3-3.5mm collected in the 1970s, on 12 strands and 18k handmade clasp, with interdispersed peridot, garnet, amethyst and amber. Took one month to drill. One of kind, produced in relation to the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Cook Islands cultured trade by a prominent local pearling family.
I hope this thread might elicit some insightful observations, including whether there is any reasonable or effective alternative to GIA natural certification for proper appraisal.