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Pearls As One (PAO) Student Focus
Onetime Educator and Jewelry Designer
Ricki Goldstein started out making jewelry of all kinds but fell in love with pearls the more she learned about them. Goldstein debuted her Pearls and Girls business on Etsy and began wholesaling to jewelry stores 12 years ago after a long career as an educator, executive at a nonprofit literacy organization, and a volunteer for a large health and social services organization in Quebec, where she lives. “My focus shifted to pearls early on as I became fascinated by their versatility and beauty,” she says. “And because they are an ecological gem, I became even more wedded to them.” She heard about Pearls As One (PAO) from course creator Jeremy Shepherd and signed up to strengthen her knowledge and grow her business. Goldstein completed the course in August 2019.
It is my birthstone, since I was born in June, but despite that, I knew very little about pearls. For my wedding I wore a very poor-quality strand of misshapen pink pearls, which I would be mortified to wear now. As I got into the business of jewelry making, I did learn a little about pearls, but I continued to have a lot of questions. And the more I learned, the more I wanted to know. As an ex-teacher (of elementary school children, special education students, college-level adults, and adult literacy students), I knew that it was time to take PAO.
Courses are limited where I live in Canada, and taking one in the U.S. meant time away from home and additional expenses, so an online course was the perfect solution. And the fact that Jeremy Shepherd developed the course meant that I would be learning from the best.
What PAO did was separate the major categories of pearls and their attributes logically, solidifying what I already knew and answering questions that I still had. Of great interest were the variety of comments and the instructor’s answers, which gave me even more to ponder about. The coursework was well laid out and designed in such a way that the information was quite easy to absorb. In fact, I buy a better-quality pearl now because of what I learned in the course.
What is your favorite type of pearl and why?
I love the Tahitians for their mirror-like surfaces, colorful overtones, and their beautiful, natural colors—even the banded ones, which I think have their very own unique charm. And I really like Akoyas for their creamy colors, their very round shapes, and their rosy glows. And I adore South Sea Pearls for their large sizes and milky white color. I even like freshwater pearls for their numerous shapes, sizes, and colors.
What pearl jewelry do you own and which pieces do you wear the most?
My favorite piece is a simple strand of knotted, 5 mm, freshwater pearls featuring a large, fireball pearl (with very thick, luminous nacre) as the focal point. (You can see me wearing it in the photograph.)
What is your favorite piece of pearl jewelry (it doesn't need to be your own)?
Ropes of pearls, as Coco Chanel would say! I still don’t have a very long one, but it is on my bucket list. The only trouble is that I am so fussy now, it would have to be large and very rosy Akoya pearls.
To you, what is the most iconic look in pearls?
The most iconic look has to be Queen Elizabeth’s triple-strand necklace, or possibly necklaces, as I am sure she has more than one. And hers probably are South Sea pearls! Who would not want to own a three-strand white pearl necklace? As soon as I put one up on my Etsy site it is gone, especially the more affordable freshwater ones.