Drawer 41: Keshi Pearls: Silver Grey

“Grand Illusion”

My Chinese Apothecary Chest:   in 1994, it arrived via container to California from Hong Kong, where I discovered beading during my husband’s ex-pat assignment.   Serves as the repository for my beads.  Handcrafted.  It has 52 Drawers, mostly sorted by color.

2017 Challenge: Create a Necklace a Week, using only the Beads from one Drawer at a time. Voila!  52 Necklaces!

Week 41/Drawer 41: October 11, 2017: “Grand Illusion”

I have two pearl drawers: last week’s was white and this week’s has grey, gold and pink-apricot tones in its three compartments.  Most of the grey have a lot of iridescence and spoke loudly to me.  I was not hearing them; my ears and eyes loved the tender quiet elegance of the silver grey.

And their muted tones rewarded me as I researched them because I learned about a class of pearls about which I knew nothing—Keshi (sometimes spelled Keishi.)

Recall from last week that the freshwater pearl is born when an irritant is placed in the mussel shell: the Keshi as developed by the Japanese were the smaller pearls that grew in the same shell when the irritant was rejected. They are pure nacre. The Chinese pearl farmers don’t leave Keshi to chance—they do a second harvest to create only Keshi.  This product is not plump and full like the first harvest which is from a young mussel producing a lot of nacre to coat the irritant.  Again, see last week’s image of lovely plump pearls.  Second harvest mussels are older, producing flatter, thinner pearls.

The true Keshi in this necklace are the nacre-only, long skinny pearls in a beautiful silver color. I spaced them with tiny sterling silver seed beads.  The small sized pearls in the second strand are high luster Akoya freshwater (first harvest) pearls, almost always a light grey.

I added a pewter centerpiece in a basketweave pattern (2.25″ long) and a sterling silver clasp. Wear your favorite silver earrings with this necklace which measures 19.5”.  $79.

Guanyin, Goddess of Mercy Necklace

 

“Goddess of Mercy”

Considered to be the source of unconditional love, Guanyin, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, is the most honored Bodhisattva in Asia. Guanyin is often depicted in white and usually wears a necklace since she is considered Chinese royalty.  She is always a creative inspiration to me.  In this centerpiece, a beautifully carved bone goddess with a bezel of sterling silver is enthroned on sterling silver and green agate.  This figure is nicely finished on the back which in my mind shows the artisan’s reverence towards Guanyin.

The necklace is made with large rounded beads of white coral which measure about ¾” high by almost 1” wide; it is a true chunky Beadleful work.  There are sterling silver discs interspersed with the coral.  It is finished with small silver hichi and a sterling silver clasp made in Bali.

This one-of-a-kind necklace measures 21” and the centerpiece is three and one half inches long.  The necklace is priced at $159 and includes standard shipping.