Of all the beautiful and valuable objects that the earth produces, the one that is truly the most complex and fascinating is not chiseled out of rock and stone but is originally found inside a living creature in an underwater realm.
The intricate process of how a pearl comes to be - not to mention the astounding variety that exists - is so complex that a tutorial is necessary to even begin to get your head around it.
Conveniently, pearl expert Koji Kawamoto, whose newest line of pearl jewelry will be featured at Karats of Vail Friday through Sunday, is offering a free seminar - complete with wine and snacks - at La Tour at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
"There are so many different kinds and types. I'm bringing Akoya pearls from Japan, White South Sea pearls from Australia, Black Pearls from French Polynesia, Golden South Sea Pearls from the Philippines and Indonesia and Freshwater Pearls from China. It's like a museum," Kawamoto said. "I would like the audience to enjoy this beauty of nature. Culturing pearls is such a fascinating and very difficult process."
True that in nature, pearls develop in clams and oysters, but finding them in their natural place on the ocean floor would take opening up a whole lot of mollusks and would yield a very minimal harvest. Thus, human beings have harnessed their own supply of mollusks and have honed in on the science of the development. In addition to breaking down the complexity of how this is done, Kawamoto will also inspect personal collections and help individuals determine if their pearls are the real thing.
"I will explain the difference between real ones and fake ones," he said. "Everyone will be able to tell the difference after the seminar."
Taking care of one's pearls is not quite as labor-intensive as, say, tending to a newborn child, but there is definitely some nurturing involved, and Kawamoto will cover this, too. He will also defy myth that pearls don't look good on everybody. After all, off-white is just a small segment of the pearl rainbow.
"Which color is good for you? It depends on your atmosphere, the color of your hair, eyes and skin tone," he said. "Pearls have such a huge variety of color. I promise there is at least one for everybody."
The pearl seminar is free to anyone and Kawamoto hopes everyone walks away with an acute understanding of why the word "pearl" is almost always preceded with the word "precious."