Tuesday, June 8, 2010

found in the Philippines

I often go back to this one same place found in Greenhills or Festival Mall for three reasons:

1st,  to shop for affordable pearls.
2nd, to satisfy the never-ending pearl craving of my New York-based family.
3rd, to carry out special requests of visiting relatives and friends residing abroad.

My 2 months ago visit was a mix of 2 and 3.  Sister # 4's fiance came over to Manila for a quick vacation and brought back to New York a few long strands for my sister (white and pink) and my mother (brown).  Every opportunity that comes my family's way surely equates to a visit to the pearl stalls found only in the Philippines.

Yesterday's visit, on the other hand,  was to fulfill a request by a visiting relative.  An aunt from J. Bond's maternal side of the family. 

Scanning the rows of stalls engulfed by layers of stringed pearls, one could immediately assume that the products carried by each stall are one and the same.  Probably true for the untrained eye like mine. A meticulous scrutiny and patience are plus points to survive the scavenge and discover unique designs.  Strings of pearls, semi-precious stones and other accessories are literally displayed within all possible areas in a 4-6 square meter stall. In my frequent visits, I usually cap the hunt with a  confused mood.  Most especially on  peak shopping days when everyone else seems to crave and hunt for pearls at the same time. Thus, I have addressed this confusion by applying these pearl-shopping styles:

1.  Shop early.  The 1st customer gets the best discount.
2.  Establish a friendly relationship with 1-2 stall owners.  It has worked wonders.
     -  1st crack on new designs and good-looking pearls.
     -  Again, appealing discounts.
     -  And, free add-ons like pouches, gift boxes and earrings.

The so-called experts  have shared  a way of testing the authenticity of a pearl --- specifically those sold in  stalls.  Rub two exact same pearls against each other.  If rough and texture is uneven, the pearl is authentic.  If smooth, it is man-made.  Truly a unique and mind-boggling way to test.  Majority of buyers and loyal patrons know this technique by heart. But my own personal belief says, as long as it's inexpensive (way too low compared to price of pearls sold at jewelry shops), then there may be(?) a huge probability of a hocus pocus way of manufacturing  these pearls.

In these stalls, I have been educated of the different type of pearls aside from South Sea Pearls --- Fresh Water pearl, Rice pearl, Mother of pearl, Black pearl, and so forth and so on. All natural.  The majestic pearl, in particular, lives to its name. Shiny. Round. Perfect. In other words, made by man.  There's too much to see and choose from that my way of pearl shopping have eventually evolved into design-based rather than a scrutiny of authenticity. 

I happily tagged along yesterday without having any plans of making a purchase. True enough, I went home with nothing!  A first in history.  I give myself a pat on the back.  Yet, I must confess that self-control can truly be tiring.  Energy down the drain!   But with this came a realization  after having observed the scrutiny of my aunt (and mother-in-law). The Philippines is blessed  for having such an abundance of pearls (and other semi-precious stones). Pearl stalls found in Greenhills, Festival Mall and Market Market  have become  popular destinations for locals and tourists alike.

In our  New York trip last year, my Mother toured J. Bond and I around her United Nations office. A first for J. Bond and an "nth" time around for me.  But definitely a tour with better appreciation perhaps due to "maturity". I faced boredom in my younger years.  The last stop was a souvenir gift shop.  In that shop, I slowly scrutinized each and every module that highlighted the crafts found from different countries. 

Then, there came the Philippines ...."an archipelago popularly known as the Pearl of Oriental Beauty and Enchantment".  The different pearls found in stalls, and that of which I have  doubted the authenticity, were ALL on display ... in a glass case ... at the United Nations ... and tagged with a high price.

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