Exotic pearls come to Vail’s Karats | VailDaily.com

Exotic pearls come to Vail’s Karats

Daily staff report
See pearls of every color from around the world at Karats of Vail this weekend and learn about the mystifying orbs from pearl specialist Koji Kawamoto at 2 p.m. at La Tour on Saturday, Dec. 20.
Special to the Weekly |

If you go ...

What: Holiday pearl show with Koji.

When: Friday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day.

Where: Karats of Vail, Vail Village.

More information: Call 970-476-4760.

VAIL — Sometimes someone stands out in a crowd because of his or her strikingly blue or green eyes. Other individuals have especially noticeable golden or cream-colored skin. We can’t help but take note and even do double takes when a certain eye or skin hue renders a person remarkably beautiful.

Koji Kawamoto believes that pearls can have the same affect. Like eye color and skin color, the subtleties of color in pearls give each individual pearl its unique beauty and those subtleties run an enormous spectrum between colors that are not so subtle. There can be dozens of shades of white, for example, as well as gold, green, blue, purple, pink and gray. Then there are those pearls whose base color can’t be described because they catch glints of every imaginable color of the rainbow.

A pearl specialist originally hailing from Mie Prefecture, Japan — the very place where pearl culturing was first discovered — Kawamoto has collected pearls from all over the world, specimens whose unique colors depend as much on the hues of the shell of the animal they grow inside (oysters, clams or mussels) as the environment in which those animals live.

Kawamoto will travel to Karats of Vail from New York City for a special holiday show that will display his vast collection of pearls Friday through Wednesday. He will bring everything from small classic Akoyo earrings (a gift he claims is the ultimate bottom-of-the-stocking surprise on Christmas morning, especially for individuals who have never owned a pair of true pearls) to 70-inch necklace strands containing pearls of every shape and color from various places across the globe — from golden baroque fresh water pearls from Australia to greenish purple “black” orbs from Tahiti.

In the past few months, a new set of pearls caught Kawamoto’s attention because he had never quite seen such brilliant shades of pistachio and aubergine. Hailing from a small island town in French Polynesia called Rikitea, the pearls are a magical addition to Kawamoto’s collection.

“This place has quite recently begun to culture pearls, and they have the most beautiful color and luster,” he said. “They come from the same black oyster as many black pearls, but it’s not the oyster but the environment that gives them this unique color — it could be a lot of plankton in the area or maybe fresh water coming in from the bay. Whatever the environmental influence, they have the most amazing overtones.”

Kawamoto prides himself on being an expert matchmaker between pearls and people. Even for individuals whose eyes or skin might not be anything extraordinary or even noticeable upon first glance, a certain color of pearl can ignite that beauty.

“For one woman, you might not notice the slight golden color in her skin until she’s wearing a strand of champagne-gold pearls. For another woman, her eyes might be considered gray, but when she wears a pair of Tahitian pearl earrings with green and blue overtones it’s like her eyes suddenly light up blue. The pearls can make the person glow.”

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