November 05, 2018

The Truth About Wish Pearls & Pearl Parties

Wish Pearls

Hi All! 

I've been turning this topic and post over in my mind for a couple weeks now, so here it is. I'm posting today about "Wish Pearls" and "Pearl Parties". , to get everyone the Inside Scoop on these little guys ... they've been popping up on facebook and youtube as part of "online pearl parties". 

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But Are Pearl Parties a Scam?

The pearls in a "Wish Pearl" oysters are from mainland china. You can currently purchase them on sites like Alibaba or Ebay for around $1-$5 and oyster.
Ebay: Pearl in Oyster

These are pearls processed at a pearl processing factory overseas, color-treated / dyed and often off round. They are then inserted into a long dead Akoya pearl oyster. 

The shells are submerged in a mix of rubbing alcohol and formaldehyde (I am hearing about other toxic substances lately, but this hasn't been confirmed yet) to keep the insides from decomposing while it waits for a buyer. Lovely....
My take on them: They're a fun gift idea to pick up while you're on vacation as long as you know what you're buying. But I draw the line at online pearl parties promoting these as Akoya pearls. 

Pearl specialist organizations like myself will not be able to mount the pearls retrieved from a Wish Pearl - drilling them is a RISKY proposition due to their submersion in various agents, and most jewelers just can't take on that liability. Usually these things come in special little "kits" that include a Sterling Silver PLATED "cage" pendant, so the manufacturers have already taken this issue into account - just pop that sucker into its cage, and bam: pretty pearl pendant.
Manufacturer Pearl Setting
The above picture from a manufacturer listed on Alibaba has done a nice job of creating a pretty presentation, with a nice selection cage pendant designs you can choose from, so you don't have to drill the pearl (and risk breaking it). 
Here's another one that's more ... er ... "promotional" in nature:
Manufacturer Setting
Same pendant designs, different package, different manufacturer. 

What is The value of Pearl Party Pearls?

I've also fielded a LOT of questions regarding value of these pearls lately - and that is an open-ended, tricky question depending entirely on that individual pearl. There is no "one size fits all" chart (which is what I understand the Pearl Parties are trying to sell to people) that valuates pearls based on size and/or color. It's total hooey. 
Typically Freshwater pearls used in Wish Pearls will range in price from $0.02 to $5.00 per pearl, depending on it's size, shape, surface quality and luster. Pearls that have been dyed are usually lower-grade jewelry quality, chosen specifically to undergo a color-treatment process due to poor luster (which makes or breaks the pearl as a gemstone); the color-treatment process usually covers up chalky luster, and gives the pearl a bright, almost plastic-looking surface shine.
I CAN tell you that Wish Pearls are currently wholesaling overseas for$1.00 to $2.00 per entire kit - that includes full packaging, submerged mollusc in tin, pearl, promotional materials AND pendant for the pearls. So what does that tell you??
Look, Wish Pearls are just a fun thing to do. It's a cutie-pie of an idea, but getting someone to mount it may cost more than it's worth in terms of time and effort, and these pie in the sky valuations (see the pearls and pricing envelope someone sent me below from a "Pearl Party" they attended) risk ruining their reputation over the long haul. They get away with it because people don't know very much about pearls.
The envelope above was sent in from a "Pearl Party" attendee asking after a Pearl Evaluation Chart which would equate her Pearl Color to a USD Dollar Amount. Oh, and also could I please give her the number of the National Pearl Association? 
Head's Up to Everyone: There is NO such chart, it does not and never will exist because there are too many variables that go into pearl grading. Pearls are evaluated according to Pearl Type (Akoya, Freshwater, Tahitian, White and Golden South Sea and Sea of Cortez), Luster Grade, Symmetry of Shape, Surface Quality and Size. Color is like the LAST thing we take into account. 
Also, there is NO "National Pearl Association" for cultured pearl professionals; it's called the Cultured Pearl Association of America (I am a member), and it has nothing to do with Wish Pearls. 
So if you, like another person that recently contacted me, go to a Pearl Party and the Hostess tells you that Dark Red, slightly oblong pearl you pulled out of a shell is like SUPER RARE AND TOTALLY VALUABLE, OMG!! Please know that it's not - it's a dyed red Freshwater pearl from China, one of millions a year that are cultured overseas in Freshwater aquaculture ponds.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, and certainly don't want to be the one to deflate this particular balloon, but I guess someone's gotta do it in light of their marketing onslaught recently! :/ 

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