Hello, I'm a longtime lurker who found this forum when I was contemplating my first SSP purchase and now I'm just beginning to build my own mini-collection. I'm based in Manila and like many before me, I went to Greenhills and got completely bamboozled by the experience -- the pushy vendors with hard-sell tactics, the padding of prices, the subpar pearl stock -- it can be a lot if you don't know much about pearls. (And of course I will be the first to admit I know very little)

After my Greenhills experience, I went to the "safe" option and bought some pieces from Jewelmer but I feel like the pieces are overpriced (to me) for what they are and what they add to my wardrobe. The pearls are beautiful, no doubt, but I feel like having a good strand of SSP shouldn't cost as much as a Manila apartment.

I guess what I am trying to ask in a long-winded way is if there is any happy medium between Greenhills and Jewelmer where I can purchase a strand of fairly good quality in Manila? Customs taxes are exorbitant and extortionate in the Philippines so I am afraid ordering from vendors outside the country is a no-go.

I have bought some SSP studs from Kultura and Naccara but I find so much variation in the pearl quality and stock based on the store. Are there any other trustworthy local brick and mortar SSP vendors in Manila I should check out? Any help or comments would be much appreciated.