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The Pearl Girls’ Journey to Hong Kong & China

March 18, 2011

The Pearl Girls founder, India Rows, along with her traveling companion and mother, Mary Dozier, left Saturday night from Atlanta on a red-eye flight. It took 15 hours to get to Seoul and another two hours to fly to Shanghai. After arriving and gathering their bags India and Mary took an hour-long cab to the train station on the south side of the city. Once there, they took an hour and a half train ride to Zhuji. After a cab ride to the hotel and grabbing a bite to eat, they called it a night in preparation for the exciting week ahead.

They had heard of a wholesale pearl market in the town of Shan Xia Hu, so India and Mary took the 40 minute cab ride there the next day. The market was massive. It was all marble and tile, and it felt colder than to 30 degree weather outside. Communicating was very difficult as not much English is spoken in these small areas of China. Although this market is solely for wholesale buyers, the two quickly discovered that the market was nothing like they had expected. India called her Chinese friend Kevin to come and meet them. He showed them to the company he was working with, Yeson, and they met with them for a little while. Kevin then took India on a journey through Shan Xia Hu. She saw the entire countryside, visited pearl farms, processing facilities, factories and more. It was an amazing journey for India. They spent a few hours in our hotel room trying to recover from the very cold day. Kevin met Mary and India a few hours later, and they had a great talk about the current economic situation in China. Kevin told them that he feels like the country is full of so much promise and excitement. India asked him what she could possibly send him to thank him for such a wonderful day. Because so many of the products in the U.S. are manufactured in China, she wasn’t sure what would be special to him from America. He told her of his love for the NBA, and he said he would be very happy with anything from the NBA!

The next morning The Pearl Girls visited with another friend. After they visited, that decided to head back to the pearl market to see if they could make anymore great contacts. Unfortunately communication continued to be a problem throughout the day. India met an adorable girl who worked with her mom, and she fell in love with their round pearls. India quickly bought the rest of their inventory for The Pearl Girls. One of the greatest aspects of freshwater pearls are their density and weight. They are tissue nucleated so they take longer to form and they have more pearl material than their saltwater counterparts (that are seed nucleated). Having said that, the Chinese have been experimenting with seed nucleated pearls. This means they put a piece of shell or a bead in the mollusk to start the pearl making process. The purpose of seed nucleated pears is to make larger pearls. India decided to go ahead and buy a strand of these seed nucleated pearl necklaces for herself. After the market India and Mary decided to meet with Kevin again. Kevin insisted on driving them back, so after a big goodbye they returned to their hotel in Zhuji to prepare for their next journey to Hong Kong.

The following day The Pearl Girls got up early to catch an hour ride to the Hangzhou airport. After realizing that they should invest in a phrasebook, they bought a flight to Hong Kong, and after a two-hour flight they arrived. What a breath of fresh air! It is so much easier to communicate in the once British occupied Hong Kong! Since India and Mary have been there often, they know the transportation system well. So, it is relatively easy to get around. After checking into their hotel, India went to the International Jewelry Show to register for the following day. They then enjoyed a nice meal and got ready for their day.  Friday, March 4th was the first full day in Hong Kong, and they hit the streets early to enjoy coffee on the trolley. India and Mary started by meeting with some contacts in Hong Kong before they went to the International Jewelry Show to see more suppliers, designers and, as always to see more trends in jewelry and jewelry designs. The juried collection was very outrageous with large pins, hair combs and rings that almost covered your entire hand.  They saw a single pearl worth $135,000, faceted pearls, lots of beautifully colored pearls, and striking clasp designs. A group was selling a light booth for photography. They saw it and checked it out. There were so many pearls! The Pearl Girls found some absolutely gorgeous pearls and worked on some great designs for the Fall 2011 Collection. They then ate a delicious meal as they looked out on the Hong Kong skyline and water. It was such a fun and magical day!

March 5th was the last day in Hong Kong for The Pearl Girls, so India and Mary really had to make the most of it. Overnight India had reviewed everything she had seen and went back to meet with key suppliers. Earlier this year she had started playing around with her own designs, so she went back to finalize some new designs The Pearl Girls plan on introducing this Fall. India found some great women who will craft these designs to her specifications. The Pearl Girls learned so much from everyone they worked with along the way! One of the most fascinating things they discovered is that some suppliers dye their pearls a slight grey color so they will look like South Sea Pearls. Of course they do this to be fashionable, not deceptive, yet they realized that this could be so confusing for many pearl buyers. It definitely reminds you to stay on top of things. People have come to expect a certain standard with The Pearl Girls, and India has no intention of letting them down!

After a full day at the jewelry show, India and Mary had time to take the Star Ferry to Kowloon to do some souvenir shopping. They left Hong Kong at midnight to fly back to Seoul (this time it took 3 hours). After a five-hour layover, they caught the flight back to Atlanta which was a brief 13 hours with the tailwinds! It was another long, wild adventure but so worth it for The Pearl Girls. And as always, “There’s no place like home!”

Check out The Pearl Girls’ Video from Shan Xia Hu, Zhejiang Province, China!!

You can also see pictures from the trip at http://www.facebook.com/thepearlgirls

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