top of page

Pearls are the world’s only organic gemstone that grows naturally in a living organism. I use the following pearl choices in my jewelry designs: 

Tahitian Pearl is a saltwater cultured pearl from the Pinctada margaritifera or Black-lip pearl oyster. These pearls are often referred to as black, but have a remarkable color range that covers the spectrum - from light, creamy white and grey, to regal greens, iridescent peacock and deep black. Tahitians come by their exotic dark color naturally, unlike black freshwater and black Akoya pearls, which have been irradiated or dyed. 

Tahitian Pearls

Although Tahitian Pearls carry the name of the famous Tahiti Island they do not come from Tahiti. Tahiti is the main trading post for atolls that produce Tahitian Pearls. Black-lip pearls are farmed in French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, the Micronesian Islands, and even to some extent, Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines, but only those grown in French Polynesia may be called Tahitian Pearls. When the pearl is the primary focus of the jewelry design, I like to recommend Tahitian Pearls. I use mostly "round" Tahitian Black Pearls in my jewelry pieces as they are the most valued. 

Akoya Pearl is a saltwater cultured pearl from the Akoya oyster (Pinctada fucata martensii). Akoya Pearls are currently farmed in China, Japan, and to a lesser extent, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia and a few other areas. According to most saltwater pearl information akoya oysters rarely produce more than 2 pearls per harvest. Akoya Pearls are inherently round, although every harvest produces a percentage of baroque and keshi pearls which tend to have the bright luster and shine common to the Akoya, but a shape and look reminiscent of a freshwater or baroque South Sea. Akoya Pearls, unless color-treated, have soft, neutral colors and overtones. Most pearls are white to grey, with pink, green, or silver overtones. Occasionally, Akoya Pearls are blue with silver and pink overtones, but these colors are rare except in the baroque variety.


Note: Akoya Pearls are never naturally black – black Akoya Pearls have undergone either a radiation or dye treatment. When my design calls for a very bright, lustrous, shiny round focal pearl, I recommend Akoya Pearls. 

Freshwater Pearls are produced by Hyriopsis cumingi (triangle shell) and Hyriopsis schlegeli (Biwa shell) commercially in China, and other bivalve mussels that live in lakes, riverbeds, and creek bottoms in Japan (Biwa pearls and Lake Kasumigaura pearls), as well the United States (Mississippi River Basin). In addition to the traditional white body color, these pearls come in a rainbow of natural pastel colors such as lavender, pink, and every shade in between. Note: Black freshwater pearls are never naturally black– black freshwater pearls have undergone either a radiation or dye treatment. 

Freshwater Pearls

Freshwater pearls are affordable and come in a variety of unique shapes and sizes which make them exciting, fun and whimsical. I prefer using freshwater pearls in my jewelry designs as it allows me to create eclectic-edgy pieces that are affordable for everyone! 

Can you tell them apart? 

(from left to right: Akoya Black Pearl, Tahitian Black Pearl, Tahitian Black Pearl and Freshwater Black Pearl). 

Freshwater Black Pearl, Genuine Tahitian Black Pearl, Genuine Tahitian Black Pearl, Freshwater Black Pearl

Protect your pearls while you're wearing them. 

Whenever you wear your pearl jewelry, be sure to put it on after you have finished applying your cosmetics and hair products, including hair spray, because the chemicals in these products can damage pearls. If you wear perfume, don't apply it in the area where you'll wear your jewelry. After you remove your jewelry for the night, rub the pearls gently with a soft, slightly damp cloth before putting them away.


Clean pearls gently and prepare for storage. Use the following method to clean pearl jewelry, including any pieces that have a mixture of pearls and other gemstones. Mix a few drops of mild soap into a bowl of lukewarm water. Dampen a soft cloth with the mixture and rub the cloth over the jewelry to remove dirt and oils. Rinse the cloth in clean water and wipe the jewelry again. Dry the jewelry with a lint-free cloth. Do not soak pearls in liquids, which could damage them because pearls are an organic substance that absorbs moisture. Also, don't clean pearls in an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner; the rough cleaning process can damage the surface. Store pearls in a compartmentalized jewelry box. Gemstones and metals can scratch pearls, so each piece of jewelry needs its own space. Also, avoid storing pearls in a plastic bag or container because the lack of air circulation will dehydrate them and make them brittle.

Natural Coral is not a gemstone -- it is actually the calcified skeletons of sea creatures that grow in formations resembling the branches of a tree. Corals can be any number of colors, from red, white, pink and blue to the rare black. Most coral used for jewelry comes from the Mediterranean Sea (called Mediterranean Italy Red Coral, Corallium Rubrum) or from the Pacific Ocean near Japan and Taiwan. Red Bamboo Coral (Keratoisis Profunda) comes from the South Pacific. Red Coral has healing and metaphysical properties and has been widely used in many cultures around the world for centuries as a protective talisman, healing creation and love amulet. 

Natural, Untreated, Mediterranean (Italy) Red Coral

Mediterranean (Italy) Red Coral is natural, untreated, rare and expensive. When the coral is the primary focus of the jewelry design, I like to recommend Mediterranean (Italy) Red Coral. 

Red Bamboo Coral

Red Bamboo Coral is also natural, but treated with dye to bring about a more uniform color. Because of this process and its availability, Red Bamboo Coral is much more affordable. I prefer using Red Bamboo Coral in my jewelry designs as it allows me to create eclectic-edgy pieces that are affordable for everyone! 

Caring for you coral. Coral is organic and quite soft, with a rating between 3 and 4 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. It is important to handle your coral with care and avoid exposing it to chemicals. To clean your coral jewelry, wipe it with a soft damp cloth. Store your coral jewelry with care by keeping it in a small, soft bag or individual jewelry box to avoid contact with other jewelry.

Genuine Puka Shells

are naturally formed rounded cone shell fragments which are found on some beaches in Hawaii. These are beach-worn pieces of cone seashells. The shell of a cone snail is cone-shaped, and closed at the larger end. When the dead shell is rolled for a long time by the waves in the breaking surf and coral rubble, the narrow end of the shell breaks off or is gradually ground off, leaving only the more solid top of the shell intact. Given enough time, the tip of the spire of the shell usually also wears down, and thus a natural hole is formed from one side to the other. This shell fragment can be seen as a sort of a natural bead, and is known as a "puka". Puka is the Hawaiian word for "hole" and refers to the naturally-occurring hole in the middle of these rounded shell fragments. Real puka shells are not flat: one side of the bead is slightly convex, the other concave. The concave side of the bead clearly shows the spiral form of the interior of the spire of the cone shell.

The naturally-formed rounded cone shell fragments are hard to find in large quantities, so true puka jewelry is now uncommon and expensive because of the labor and time involved in finding and hand-picking these rather uncommon shell fragments from the beach drift.


In all my jewelry pieces, I use either: 1) Vintage Genuine Puka Shells (over 35 years old) that I handpicked as a little girl from the beaches of North Shore or the Waianae Coast or 2) Genuine Puka Shells that I handpicked “last week” from North Shore. 

Natural Volcanic Lava Beads 

 Earthy yet elegant, volcanic lava stone beads are made from lava expelled by a volcano during an eruption. Due to their many holes and bubbles, volcanic lava stone beads add great texture, but not a lot of weight, to jewelry designs. These exotic volcanic lava stone beads have a rough appearance, but are smooth on the skin.

Peacock Feathers 

Did you know that peacocks can be found in Makaha Valley and Kailua/Waimanalo in the Bluffs?

Peacocks are large, colorful pheasants (typically blue and green) known for their iridescent tails. These tail feathers boast colorful "eye" markings of blue, gold, red, and other hues. Feathers are sorted for quality then matched in size, fiber length and fullness, eye shape, and other factors to make a matching pair of feather earrings. It's common for me to sort through 50 or more feathers to match just 2 or 3 pairs for earrings. Each feather is cleaned and steamed before using them in my jewelry pieces. My peacock feather collection is named after Princess Ka‘iulani ~ may you experience grace, dignity, hope and inspiration!

peacock earrings

Mother of Pearl

Mosaic Black Mother of Pearl BeadThe inside layer of certain fresh and salt water mollusks contain a luminescent substance called mother-of-pearl or nacre. It comes from three main sources: 1) The tropical seas of Asia have the pearl oyster, 2) Freshwater pearl mussel is found in the rivers of United States, Europe and parts of Asia, and 3) The last source is abalone in the Pacific regions. Jewelry made from mother of pearl falls in the group referred to as organic jewelry ~ jewelry that originates from a living creature, plant or organism.

Mosaic Black Mother of Pearl Bead

bottom of page