There's something about a freshwater pearl that just calls to me. Maybe it's the unique shapes, the variety of colors, or the beautiful luster, but either way I'm always drawn to them every time I'm shopping at a bead or gem show.
At the beginning of the month I attended a special seminar on freshwater pearls underwritten by the Bead Society of Northern California (BSNC), an organization devoted to the education of bead history, production, design, and exhibition. It was a very interesting seminar presented by Damien & Wendy Masterson of East West Best Trading Company, and they had some great tips on how to judge the quality of a pearl based on shape, luster, and the dye job. I took their tips into account the next time I went shopping, and came away with this stash from a vendor called Chau's Pearl (who sadly do not have a functional website):
As you can see, I'm partial to small, evenly-shaped pearls that I can attempt to incorporate into beadwoven designs (except for the funky-shaped white pearls near the top; I just found those too cool to pass up). It can be quite difficult to find these qualities in small freshwater pearls, and unfortunately some of the pearls I bought didn't have the kind of luster I was looking for.
I did however find some gorgeous peacock-toned drop pearls that size very closely to the Czech teardrop beads that I've been using in my recent designs. Since the Bubble Box beaded bead worked so well with either Czech or Japanese drops, I decided to try it with these pearls and came up with this pendant:
I was thrilled when I found that these pearls work so well with this design! Although these pearls are not as uneven as other pearls that I've tried to work with, they still have a bit of variability so I'm not sure if they will work in my other teardrop beaded beads. I should these pearls in my other designs to find out!