My First Pearls (Not From Wal-Mart!)


Community member
Sep 19, 2013

I'm Renna, I'm new here, YES I live in Hawaii and yes, I love pearls. Lucky me, I know. :)

The sad twist to this story is that I am only a few months shy of 25 and earning a grand total of $1600 a month, and as I've noticed (and found mentioned in other threads here), the price pearls go for in Hawaii is incredible. I'm not a pearl or industry expert by any means, but I love jewelry and spent several summers working trading posts in the Southwest so I have a pretty good instinct for when I'm being had. I see absolutely no reason to pay $800 for a brand name and two 8-9mm pearls glued onto stud earrings. I think it's closer to justified when there's evidence of metalwork/craftmanship/design, but even when that happens I usually feel that the price is not fair and that I'm being asked to pay for my location and the company's prestige more than the actual product. I've been yearning for beautiful pearls to jump-start the professional, classy wardrobe I would someday like to have, but I think I've ultimately decided to give up the dream of buying pearls from a brick-and-mortar store here in Hawaii. I love it here, but I won't enjoy what I get nearly as much if it comes with financial worry and buyer's remorse. Instead, I've been looking around online and would greatly appreciate any advice/tips/information you lovely pearl-obsessed people can give me (I have been trolling the forums and am seriously jealous of all of you ಠ_ಠ ).

*Just-above-shoulder length, thick wavy brown hair. light olive skin, dark cinnamonny brown eyes. I wear glasses. And I'm white, if that helps.
*I love drop-shape anything, and pearls are no exception.
*I wear earrings daily. Bracelets and rings, maybe once or twice a week, but they tend to catch on things and get in the way of writing/drawing/piano playing. Necklaces rarely, because they're forever too short or too long and I'm always rushing too much to fiddle with clasps. Right now I'm definitely looking for earrings. :)
*I do not like extremely long dangles. I'm short, so thin wire with a focal point 2 inches down means that people are staring at my neck and not my face, which I find annoying. Favorite style is a stud of some kind with a drop falling from it.
*I'm most drawn to Tahitian pearls (not black! I like dark-light silver and all the various overtones; the really deep black ones depress me), golden South Sea, and the chocolate pearls. I think Tahitian or golden would be most versatile for daily wear though, so I'll wait on the chocolate ones.
*Pearls I Own: A set of 3 pairs of 6mm, button freshwaters from Wal-Mart, white, pink, and silver. Dangle dark silver, peacock, baroque drop....somekindofpearl. I'm pretty sure they are real pearls because they passed the fingernail test, but I have no idea what kind. Only paid $20 for them though so I don't much care. :) And I have large button studs I grabbed from the swap meet for $1. Again, real pearl. Totally dyed to look Tahitian and probably mounted on lead studs, but oh well. Finally, 2 loose 'pick a pearls' from Maui Divers, pink and a dark lavender. I haven't drilled them. I just like looking at them like the total nerd I am.

Okay, now for the fun part -- pearls I'm considering! If you have time to look through, please please let me know what you think of the various companies/pearls that are being offered. $300 might be a sneeze for some people but it's nearly a week's salary for me, so if I'm going to spend that much in one shot I need it to be on something worth the money. And mahalo nui loa for anyone who has read through this far; you're wonderful.





4. (really the main difference on this one is the company selling the pearl, and that Overstock takes paypal while Amazon does not).

5. Adding diamonds.








A huge thank you to anyone who made it all the way through, and triple triple thanks to anyone who finds the time to reply. I apologize for how long this thread is. I just really want to make a good decision, and after stalking the forums for the last 3 days I feel like this is the best resource I could turn to for advice. :)

Happy pearl hunting!
Hi, Renna, and welcome! I'm relatively new myself, but one thing I can tell you is that most of the advice here says to get the best quality pearl you can manage. That said, the first Amazon link says the pearls are moderately blemished and medium luster, as compared to others that say clean or high luster.

Pearl Paradise and both have a good reputation here, from what I've read. Also, I read that Pearl Paradise has many things not on the web site and if you email them, they are very good to help you find what you're looking for, so they may be able to send you pictures of specific items to help you choose. Being able to see pictures of the actual item can help avoid disappointment when the item received doesn't match a stock photo. (I have purchased from Pearl Paradise and am very pleased.)

I'm sure some of the more experienced people will be along to give you more specific advice. Good luck and have fun shopping!
I would definitely go with Pearl Paradise or, with Amazon or Overstock you have no idea the quality of pearls you would receive. I really love the Blossom setting goldens (you could also get these made up with Tahitians)...these would be my first choice. Please let us know what you choose.
Hi Renna and welcome,

Sounds like the beginning of a long and happy relationship here :)

Overstock can be okay. I seem to recall one of vendors here selling pearls there. Do check the return policy from Hawaii, though. As far as I know vendors at Amazon has to pay them a percentage of their sells. This means you get less for your money. I agree with PP and having a good reputation. In fact, you can follow any link from vendors active at PG and follow it - just for fun, right? :)

Most of us have spent money on less than perfect pearls only to realie that if we had pooled those spendings we could have gotten something really good...

- Karin

Welcome! Good choices at both and Pearl Paradise. Either company may be willing to send photos of the actual pearls for your approval. I've seen the blossom setting in person and it is lovely! I would contact them personally about your order to discuss pearl colors. You can purchase some lovely earrings and stay around your budgeted amount. We look forward to seeing what you decide on!

Most of us started with a basic pearl collection similar to yours. It's wonderful that we women now feel comfortable buying pearls for ourselves; we don't have to wait for a guy to buy them for us.
Hi Renna,
I'm new here, too. I have had a wonderful time purchasing from Pearl Paradise. They enjoy building relationships, and they listen carefully to you. You might even "meet" Jeremy, if you ask. Be sure to let them know you are a pearl-guide member- that makes a difference.:) The unusual pearls aren't on the web site, but they are in the pearl vault, for the asking. Since you are an artist, you might like baroque free forms to play with. Have fun!

...Sort of. :) My mind keeps going back to the blossom goldens and I will probably end up getting a pair at some point, but Pearl Dreams kindly PMed me with the brilliant suggestion of buying loose pearls and making simple earring jackets from them with a looped head pin. That way I could wear them with any stud I wanted. She also linked me to a 12mm pair she'd seen up on Etsy, selling for a whopping $84.00...and when I clicked into it I gasped.

Presenting, without further adieu, my soon-to-be first pearl earrings: *drumroll*

AAA freshwater set

TADA!! I am over the moon right now and smiling like a lunatic. Thank you, thank you all for the advice and help. I can't wait to see them in person, I can't wait to wear them, and I already can't wait for my next pair. I think I'll fit in nicely. XD XD XD

Re Pattye: The man was supposed to buy?!?! Only one thing to be said there:

I'm late to the party, but you sure did get some great advice. I enjoy your enthusiasm. Enjoy! :)
Oh Boy! Renna, you are going to have P-G rockin' n rollin'! Can't wait to see what you do with your pearls!:D
Renna, Lovely pearls, you"ll have drops to wear in no time!

Re Pattye: The man was supposed to buy?!?!
I feel it's changed over the last 20-25 or so years, but previously a woman's significant jewelry, the "real" stuff, were either inherited or gifts from a man. This might be a fun topic of discussion, so I'll start a new thread in Other Stuff.
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How to make basic, simple earring jackets with minimal fuss

How to make basic, simple earring jackets with minimal fuss

I've basically spent the day figuring out a very simple and effective way to make a basic earring jacket that anyone can make.

This is the best design I finally settled on for the earring jacket. This earring jacket swings gently and is very comfortable, and is not very noticeable under your stud.


It requires one 2 inch head pin and one 4mm open jump ring per jacket. [Edit: Too large-- the rings peek out from under small studs. Go for 3mm or even 2mm jump rings. Get good quality rings that close well.] Longer head pins if you want a very long dangle. (I did trim a good amount of the excess head pin off though so 2" is probably long enough for most styles. Edit: Actually 1" worked fine for a very short jacket with the pearl sitting just under the lobe.)
(Note: If you eliminate the jump ring and just make a simple loop with the head pin for the stud to pass through, it doesn't swing nicely. I tried.)

(I used only a base metal head pin for this trial and it sticks out under the pearl, but good quality head pins will not do so.)
You can embellish with fancier head-pins or added spacers or beads, but this is the basic design.

You will need round nose pliers, bent nose or chain-nose pliers, wire cutters and (recommended) nylon head pliers to straighten the head pin if it isn't already.


1. Put your pearl onto the head pin, and any additional beads you are using.
2. Hold it up to your ear and determine where you want the loop to be formed.
3. Make a very small wrapped loop in the head pin using the very tips of the round nose pliers (see videos on YouTube for how-to) and trim the excess wire with cutters.
3. Insert the open 4mm jump ring through the wrapped loop and use 2 pairs of pliers to close the jump ring.

The post of your stud passes through the jump ring.


If you prefer an earring jacket on a short chain, you can wire-wrap the head pin to one end of a length of rollo chain and attach an open jump ring to the other end of the chain, as I did for these:

Any chain that has loops large enough to accept a jump ring can be used. You can even cannibalize old jewelry to do this, even fashion jewelry. In fact, silver tone fashion jewelry chain won't tarnish as silver will, and is a good choice for casual fun earring jackets. We don't need to buy the best findings for everything. :rolleyes:
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Aww, Pearl Dreams, That was so kind and literally thoughtful of you..
I hope this tutorial will have a place over on the Lowly Beaders forum, so I can find it when I get all the gear to try make it.
(The Tractor Supply doesn't seem to carry it. Odd...);)
I could post a thread there but let me first locate some links to videos for wire wrapping and maybe a few more photos as well.
As an afterthought, I suppose one could make a simple loop (instead of a wrapped loop) with the headpin for the jump ring to be connected to; the clear advantage would be that it would be "show" less under the stud. My concern is that it would also be less secure because the simple ring might, with time and use, gap enough to allow the jacket to slip off the jump ring and be lost. If you decide to try this, I urge you to use a nylon mallet to work harden the simple loop before attaching the jump ring. This would make it less flexible and stronger. Don't use a chasing hammer for this-- it will make the loop flatter, will open it up a bit, and will make it more brittle.

I plan to experiment with this using some beads I am not worried about losing.

EDIT: Forget it! I tried and didn't like the simple loop at all for security. See post #17 below for details.
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PearlDreams, you're a terrific asset and friend to us here!
Thanks ((Lisa))!

Update based on experiments!

I will expand below, but the bottom line is:

1. A simple loop for the head pin is going to be risky. Don't use it with anything valuable.
2. Do make a wrapped loop, but it's okay to only do one turn of wrapping.
3. Use a smaller open jump ring so it won't hang so low, minimizing the chance the wrapped loop will extend below your stud and be visible. I only had 4mm on hand to play with, but you can buy 3mm --or even 2mm-- jump rings (Rio Grande has them, and others do too, no doubt). The jump ring only has to be wide enough for the wrapped loop plus your stud post to pass through. Buy good quality jump rings--cheap ones may not close tightly, risking the loss of your dangle.
4. A 1-inch head pin was long enough for a very short dangle with my 10mm pearl seen below. If buying precious metal this could save you money.

Okay, expanding on the above:

For the experiment I made 2 earring jackets using 10mm fake glass pearls and 1-inch GF headpins.

For the first, I made a simple loop, closed it the best I could and hammering it a bit with my nylon mallet. However, even closed the best I could, there was still a little gap. I know many people use simple loops for dangles, but realize that it is not truly secure and don't risk your best pearls. The jacket will swing back and forth as you move, getting a lot more motion than, say, a dangle in a necklace might get. That make the risk of loss greater.

Next I made a wrapped loop, but this time I only gave the wire a single turn. While wire wrapping can be decorative, we might prefer it not to be seen peeking out from under a stud.
The wrapping was only very slightly visible under my love knot stud but rather visible under the diamond stud. (If you look closely at the diamond stud photo, you can see the jump ring peeking out also.)
This is why I suggest going to a smaller jump ring size, 3mm or maybe even 2mm. The wrap job would then be higher up under the stud and hopefully out of sight.

I don't have 2mm or 3mm rings on hand at the moment to test this with. Anyone else have smaller jump rings and care to try?
I suspect 3mm will be the ideal size-- enough room for the wrapped loop and the stud.

Both photos below show the wrapped loop.


  • Experiment-- wrapped loop, one turn, 4mm jump ring.jpg
    Experiment-- wrapped loop, one turn, 4mm jump ring.jpg
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  • Experiment-- wrapped loop, one turn, 4mm jump ring, diamond studs.jpg
    Experiment-- wrapped loop, one turn, 4mm jump ring, diamond studs.jpg
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I'll try to make some 3mm jump rings from some wire tomorrow for further experimental purposes. All I need is something small enough to wrap it around....
Why use a jump ring at all - just use a longer jump ring* and wrap that?

*I, of course, meant head pin not jump ring.
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