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" aka "Love Pearls", to get everyone the Inside Scoop on these little guys ... my post today is in response to the totally OVERWHELMING amount of inquiries I've received since about mid-December 2016 about valuation, pearl type, and legitimacy. I guess whoever's been handling the Wish Pearl business has really ramped up their marketing lately, because this stuff has been all over my radar (and stuffing my Inbox and FB Messenger!!).
The pearls in a "Wish Pearl" oysters have already been harvested (NO exceptions), processed at a pearl processing factory overseas, color-treated / dyed (or not - I have seen some natural color Lavender Freshwater pearls pulled out of an Akoya oyster "Wish Pearl" tin my friend purchased at a Sea World visit, lol!! You never know what you're going to get!), and then re-inserted back into a baby mollusc and placed in the "Wish Pearl" tin for buyers to open.
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 (so you don't get a face full of "EWWWW, GROSS WHAT'S THAT SMELL??" when you open them lol!).
My take on them: They're a fun gift idea, or little tchotchke to pick up while you're on vacation as long as you know what you're buying. Every pearl I've ever seen used in a Wish Pearl oyster is a fairly decent, jewelry quality Freshwater or Akoya pearl - but you won't be finding Tahitian, South Sea or natural, wild pearls in there!
SETTING THEM (MAKING JEWELRY)
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.
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:
Same pendant designs, different package, different manufacturer.
WISH PEARL VALUE
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?? Yep.
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. For most of these "hostesses" this is a part-time side gig to a make a few bucks. She's not a pearl expert and this is a multi-level marketing ploy (a good one!), rather like a pyramid scheme.
That's it for today, guys.
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! :/
I do hope that this post contributes to a more informed understanding of what and how this operation works. If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact me anytime and I'll do my best to clear up any further misconceptions about the Pearl in a Can concept. Till then: Long Live Color!