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Circle Pearls
A Groove Thing
By David Federman

It seemed a good idea at the time. To find out why so many of Tahiti’s and, to a far lesser extent, Australia’s, Indonesia’s, and China’s cultured pearls grow with single or parallel grooves in them, just ask a pearl farmer. So we had Pamela Butler of Ocean Gem Pearl Corp. in San Francisco, who is a frequent traveler to Tahiti, inquire on our behalf with a grower there. His reply: “If we knew what makes these rings occur, we would correct the problem.”

This answer left us right back where we began. But at least we knew that no one knows for sure what causes this common anomaly.

Now the question doesn’t bother us as much as it did. Maybe that’s because we have accepted what is called the “circle pearl” as a fact of life, one worth celebrating rather than bemoaning.

Understandably, farmers who lose money on this subspecies of baroque pearl dream of finding ways to significantly reduce, if not eliminate, the large number of them.

While we aren’t suggesting that growers throw precaution to the winds, may we offer a small piece of advice: Before wishing the world rid of circle pearls, pay some attention to how the market feels about them.

Circle pearls are red-hot and growing hotter. In fact, C. Link International, a Tokyo-based firm that specializes in Chinese freshwater pearls, says Japan has gone ga-ga for these exotic pearls in buxom sizes.

And you’ll never guess the reason why.

The simple secret of their success, says Michael Randall of Gem Reflections in San Anselmo, California, is this: “Circle pearls are the world’s most for-sure pearl. Customers see the ridges in them and they don’t have to wonder if they’re man-made pearl-escent plastic. They can see at a glance these pearls grew inside an oyster.”

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Circle Pearls