Book Review - “Pearls: A Practical Guide” (2021) by Wendy Graham

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Book Review
“Pearls: A Practical Guide” (2021) by Wendy Graham
The Crowood Press. UK. 96 pages


It´s not every day that we get a “new pearl book”, since many believe that everything about pearls has already been said before (who said that?!?!?) or has been covered in absolute detail by many other books produced in the past. But the “pearl scene” does indeed change with time, there are advancements in the field of pearliculture, there is creativity at the hands of pearl farmers and there are new “pearl hybrid mollusks” that open up an entirely new crop of pearls to the pearl markets and the loyal lovers of this unique organic gem…and because of this we will always need and enjoy new books on the subject.
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It is under this perspective that I have reviewed and enjoyed Wendy Graham’s book and let me tell you some reasons why I now have it on my desk for daily use and consultation. I have 5 books always on my desk: Mattlins’ “The Pearl Book”, Newmann’s “Pearl Buying Guide”, Strack’s “Pearls”, Southgate & Lucas’ “The Pearl Oyster” and Kunz & Stevenson’s “The Book of the Pearl”. Of course, I own many, many more books! But these are the ones I always use for a reference and I prefer to use the first two (and now, on my list…why?) because I can look for information faster and more efficiently.

And although this is not my case: these shorter books are perfect for newcomers since they comprise the most relevant information about pearls without having to use different books or sources. And even if I am what many consider to be a “pearl expert” …my main interest and knowledge lies in the fields of biology, aquaculture, pearl grading, sales and history than in jewelry making, pearl processing and knotting.

This book comprises the following chapters:
  1. Pearl basics: With all the basic information required to have about mollusk biology and pearl biology 101, the basics about the different pearl shapes and types.
  2. From Farm to Customer: that discusses pearl farming and all the technicalities regarding the production of pearl mollusks, the harvesting of pearls, their processing…even how to measure them.
  3. Buying Pearls: one of the most important chapters for all pearl lovers, since we all want “the best bang for our bucks” and I particularly like how the author covers all possible tracks on how to purchase pearls, from trade shows, auctions, garage sales and even TV and online sellers. This chapter also covers the “Seven Pearl Value Factors” and imitation pearls. Does not skip a beat.
  4. Drilling Pearls: This is probably one of my favorite chapters because I always had a lot of apprehension when drilling pearls and you would want others to understand how delicate this process can be and it is covered in detail, without overcomplicating it. Some good tips are presented here too.
  5. Setting Pearls: another remarkably interesting chapter for me, since it falls under an area that I never fully specialized and having these tips and information comes very handy for me.
  6. Knotting Pearls: this is another interesting chapter for me, since it contains all the basics and pointers required to start your pearl necklace stringing or re-stringing project.
  7. Chapters 7 through 10: feature the most important and basic pearl groups, such as Akoya, Tahitian, South Seas and Freshwater.
  8. Other Pearls: this chapter covers some of the most common “rare” pearls, both natural and cultured, such as abalone, conch, scallop and Cortez pearls. It is a quick reference guide for the unusual pearls.
So, do I recommend the book? Definitively. It is professionally written, concise, full of information, with good photographs and good paper quality. It will be on my desk, and I do hope the author, Wendy Graham, will issue extra editions to update the information in the years to come.

The book may be purchased from here: www.pearlsapractical.guide

Reviewed by Douglas McLaurin-Moreno on March 20, 2021.
 
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Good morning Jersey Pearl :)

I am sure we could...she will actually have her Zoom lecture on the 31st of this month? Let me check!
Yup! You can check it here: Pearl Webinars - Pearl-Guide.com

And we could probably have other guests too...it's a great suggestion and I know pearlescence will like it very much.
 
Douglas, thank you so much for your thorough review; I've recently received my copy of Wendy's awesome book and hope to dive into it this weekend! At first glance, multiple photos on almost every page add to experiencing Wendy's nose-to-tail knowledge of everything pearl! I'm completely jealous of her firsthand experience "birthing" a pearl from the oyster!
 
Thank you, but we should thank pearlescence for authoring the book :)
I will continue to write reviews for all new pearl books that come across my eyes...I may even do so with older books that have not been reviewed here.
It's part of sharing!
 
Douglas, thank you so much for your thorough review; I've recently received my copy of Wendy's awesome book and hope to dive into it this weekend! At first glance, multiple photos on almost every page add to experiencing Wendy's nose-to-tail knowledge of everything pearl! I'm completely jealous of her firsthand experience "birthing" a pearl from the oyster!

Pattye, how did you snag your copy?!? Inquiring minds want to know!
 
I ordered mine off the Pearlescence website, although I haven't received it yet.
 
I was actually not expecting mine to arrive so fast! It was sent via traditional snail-mail and it got here FAST.
 
Yay! Congratulations! :D
 
Thanks for the great review, Douglas. I will need to order this from Wendy soon!
 
I recently got a copy of Pearls: A Practical Guide and spent some time with it over the holiday!

The book is a quick and easy read and is very different from other pearl books out there. It really is a practical guide. While most pearl books are regurgitations of content, this one is clearly written from a first person, on-the-ground perspective.

It covers the science behind pearls, but It's written in plain English - the way we speak in the trade. We call these pearls nuggets, these shapes drips, this surface rippled, etc. There is trade-level colloquialism to the writing that only comes with experience.

It also covers truly practical things you won't find elsewhere, like pearl drilling. And not just pearl drilling, but how to enlarge a drill hole. Yes, I know how to do this, but I learned by trial and error - because there wasn't a book out there showing me how when I started. lol :09:

This is probably the best book out there for anyone considering going into the pearl business. It's a manual of sorts.

Kudos to Wendy @pearlescence from taking the time to put her experience to paper. If you haven't read this one yet, I definitely recommend adding it to your pearl library.
 
The book is a quick and easy read and is very different from other pearl books out there. It really is a practical guide. While most pearl books are regurgitations of content, this one is clearly written from a first person, on-the-ground perspective.
Belatedly, my copy arrived today after having missed its release initially. It is clear and to the point, 'just the facts' plus a few very sound conclusions (such as progenitor status for Pinctada Maculata). The iinformation accessibility is stimulating and will serve as a welcome refresher having been away from this forum and pearls per se for some time. Photos are super, a minor correction being that the photo of Te Poe O Te Kuki Airani was actually taken at Pearl Paradise, although I did participate in the shoot!

Congratulations Wendy!
 
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