Ruth Johnson may work in insurance, but her love of pearls and fine jewelry led her to become an industry insider and Pearls As One student (PAO). Johnson has long been a member of the online forum Pearl Guide, and after attending several private Ruckus events for pearl lovers, she became fast friends with the CPAA’s own Douglas McLaurin (a founder of Perlas Del Mar de Cortez, the Sea of Cortez pearl brand), Sarah Canizzaro of Kojima Pearl, and Josh Humbert and Celeste Brash of Kamoka Pearl. It was through her involvement in Pearl Guide that she learned of PAO, earning her certificate in 2016. “I wear and enjoy these beautiful organic gems daily, and with understanding and knowledge comes greater appreciation of them,” she says.
Why are pearls important do you?
I have loved and collected fine jewelry my entire adult life. I have supported several custom jewelry designers in my community for decades, and count many of them as dear friends. Wearing little pieces of fine art is truly a personal privilege and a small joy for me every day.
Why did you decide to take PAO versus other available pearl courses?
There was an announcement on Pearl Guide that if you passed the PAO course by the end of December 2016 your name would be entered into a drawing for a free trip to Bali to visit the Atlas Pearl Farm. I was busy with my day job but made time to complete the course in order to enter the drawing. As it turned out, I won, and my husband and I visited Bali the following spring. This was truly the trip of a lifetime, and many thanks are in order for Jeremy Shepherd and Atlas Pearls, who sponsored it.
What is your favorite variety/type of pearl and why?
I love Tahitians and golden South Sea pearls, but the Sea of Cortez pearls have truly won my heart. In the summer of 2019, I was able to purchase a number of Sea of Cortez keshi pearls directly from Douglas McLaurin-Moreno. I had earrings made by T Lee Custom Designer Jewelry of Minneapolis, and the remainder of the keshi were wire-wrapped into a necklace by Sarah Pallone of Ocean’s Cove. These pearls from the rainbow-lipped oyster, Pteria sterna, are so uniquely colorful and so very rare. These pieces are truly among my most valued treasures.
What pearl jewelry do you own and which piece do you wear most and why?
I own many strands of pearls from Pearl Paradise, both Tahitian and South Sea. I own a Harvest strand from Kamoka Pearls as well as a number of their Tahitian pearl studs. I wear pearl studs almost daily. Earrings are my favorite type of jewelry because I like how it adds a bit of color and emphasis to the sides of the face. I own a few freshwater pearls, and I especially like the lavender feather-shaped pearls, probably due to their wonderful organic shapes. I have a number of pearl creations from Kojima Pearl. Sarah Canizzaro’s aesthetic appeals to me due to her creative use of shapes. I also own a number of fine jewelry pieces made from freshwater Japanese Kasumi pearls, which are a specialty of Kojima. The deep lavender Kasumi pearls are a particular favorite of mine.
Ruth Johnson, Seasoned Pearl Enthusiast