Hi all, first time poster - long time lurker here. I just wanted to say thanks. It's forums like these that enable a joe blow like me to go from pearl newbie to pearl expert (by layman's standards) in a short amount of time.
Anyway, I wanted to buy my fiancee some pearls for our wedding day and all I really new was that Japanese Akoya's were supposedly "good". I went through a similar research process last year when I bought her engagement ring. I scoured the net for info on diamonds and came across the forums at pricescope.com and diamondtalk.com. (If anyone is interested, I ended up buying a Hearts & Arrows diamond from superbcert.com; I highly recommend them and Barry the owner). Well this time I wanted to do my research for pearls, I started off at pricescope.com and searched for pearls even though the site usually focuses on diamonds. Two companies were recommended frequently: americanpearl.com and pearlparadise.com. They both got pretty good reviews so I checked them out. The americanpearl.com website was pretty impressive but the Akoya's I was looking at were out of my price range. I went over to pearlparadise.com and ran across their "Freshadama" line of pearls. At first I thought it was a gimmick. But then I started doing some research and a couple google's later, I came across this website. A few positive testomonials from you guys and I was hooked. I pulled the trigger and ordered an 18" 7-8mm white Freshadama necklace and a pair of matching dangle earings. I ordered them Monday, there was one day for processing (I was told the Freshadama necklaces are strung by the order) and I got the overnight shipping so they got to me yesterday (Wednesday). For service, I give pearlparadise.com 10/10. I know the owner posts on this forum, and I must say that I have always had good luck with businesses who have owners that actively participate in forum's like these.
Now on to the pearls. They are awesome. I will never purchase Akoya pearls as long as these things are available. Anyway, I gave them to her last night and she absolutely loved them. I can't wait to do some window shopping at the mall and see the what price tag is on some identical Akoya's.
And, yes, I know I'm commiting the cardinal jewelry-forum-sin by not posting pics. I'll get my camera up and running and post some in this thread sometime this weekend.