Deep Dive: What Is a Harvest Necklace?
A pearl farmer’s one-of-a-kind featuring the range of an entire harvest
A “hodgepodge” necklace of mixed beads spied at a 2002 jewelry show in Hong Kong planted the design seed for Celeste Brash’s favorite piece of jewelry to make: harvest necklaces. She and husband Josh Humbert grow Tahitian pearls on their family owned Kamoka pearl farm in the Ahe atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago of Tahiti. Brash liked the look of the mixed-bead necklace she saw in Asia, and the pair love the range of pearl types that result from harvests, so they decided that an aptly named harvest strand would be a beautiful and unique tribute to annual hauls.
“We thought it would be cool to have a piece that would display all the cool shapes and sizes and colors in one go,” she explains. “When you make a regular strand, all the pearls are homogenous, the same, but in a harvest strand they’re all different.”
Since their genesis, Kamoka has set aside unusual pearls as “harvest strand fodder.” Among them? Big colorful baroques, unusual keshi, and large rounds. And in case you’re wondering—yes, the pearls do change from year to year. Some seasons offer up more rounds, others more baroques. “Each pearl is a conversation piece,” says Brash of the mixes, which range from 4 mm keshi to 14 mm rounds.
“We’re going to start issuing a terroir, just like vintners,” adds Brash. (That’s a no-brainer given that she doubles as a professional writer.) Since Humbert often spends months at a time at the farm (the couple call Portland, Ore., home), he carefully documents wind gusts and water temperatures. A timeline of those factors paired with the pearls will offer both farmers and buyers an interesting snapshot of how the environment affects the crop.
In a good year, Kamoka could produce upwards of five harvest strands; given the farm is a mom-and-pop outfit—literally started by Humbert’s dad, Patrick, in 1990—a typical harvest might be just 7,000 pearls. That’s a small output compared with bigger neighboring farms, such as those from powerhouse Robert Wan. To date in 2020, Kamoka has sold two strands and four bracelets, though more are en route. One strand from 2018 remains online. Harvest strands start at around $3,400 retail.
“Harvest strands are contrasts that work together,” says Brash. “The pearl sizes must have real visual differences to work. A harvest strand is a representation of a typical Tahitian pearl harvest—plus the personality of the pearls and of Josh and me, who assemble them. Harvest strands have a lot of love in them.”