The Pearls of Our Lives

“My mother loved pearls.”

“During my college vacations, I returned home to Ramallah.  We sat together at her dining room table, stringing pearls and talking about my life in the US,” said Lina, Juman Pearls’ designer, to the gathered women.

We were at the Anamil 296 Gallery to hear women artists describe where they found their inspiration.

“I got married and moved to Saudi Arabia.  My finance studies were, how shall I put it? Not wasted, but I did not get the opportunities I wanted.  After a tearful visit, my mother sent me home with a bag of pearls.  She said pearls saved her life after my father died, perhaps they could help me.”

Pearl by pearl, Lina sorted through her bag to design pieces inspired by the particular pearl’s luster.  Working with eastern-province goldsmiths, she created jewelry she imagined elegant women, like her mother, Wedad, would wear.  With each sale, her confidence grew.

Together the mother and daughter traveled to Hong Kong to bargain for cultured-pearls, diamonds and other gems.  Wedad loved stringing pearls, while Lina loved designing.  Their “pearling business” grew and before they knew it, they needed an official name.  They named their company Juman Pearls, after Lina’s only daughter.

Since antiquity, legends say within each pearl was life – everlasting life.

Gilgamesh, British royalty and Jacque Cartier found their way to Bahrain, the land of two seas where the tiny, high-quality, juman, pearls were found.

Bahraini Pearls at Qal at al-Bahrain UNESCO World Heritage Site

“The pearls round Arabia on the Persian Gulf…are specially praised,” wrote the Roman, Pliny the Elder.

By the 1930s, pearl buyers flocked to Japan for Mikimoto’s less expensive, cultured pearls, and the Bahrain pearl divers lost their livelihood. Today 95% of cultured pearls come from China.  Rumor has it, the Japanese have returned to the island in search of Bahrain’s now-elusive, natural pearls.

Like other pearl merchants, Lina eventually made her way to Bahrain.  And as life happens on the island, one day, while she drafted designs, she discovered she sat side-by-side with Bahrain’s preeminent, pearl trader, Mahmood Pearls.

“Your designs are wonderful,” she was told.  “Could you create a line for us featuring Bahraini pearls?”

Lina was thrilled to be invited to build a collection around such legends.

She confided to our group that day, “I never knew how expensive Bahraini pearls were.  And now, after so many oyster beds have been reclaimed, few pearls are big enough to make into necklaces.  A single-strand, pearl necklace is about $40,000.”

No wonder the pearl trader only gave his wife one.

“On a gold chain around her neck, she wore a round white pearl, a gift from his father; it shone like the moon in the night sky.” from The Little Pearl Merchant.

Mahmood Pearls will be debuting Lina’s designs at Jewelry Arabia.  Perhaps you will find your own moon, wrapped in gold, to hang from your neck.


Since the 1990s, Juman Pearls has found favor with Saudi Arabia’s high-end buyers who seek unique pieces that are not mass-marketed.  Lina also designs for expatriates who are tired of the traditional, 22K gold bangles and want more up-scale treasures.

For the first time, Juman Pearl’s designs will be for sale in Bahrain.  In conjunction with Mahmood Pearls, one of the oldest jewelry companies in Bahrain, Lina created the Arabesque collection with Bahraini pearls set in gold.

Juman Pearl’s showroom is at Desert Designs in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia.  The entire Arabesque Collection, featuring cultured pearls set in gold, is on display at the showroom.  The website is


The biggest jewelry show in the Middle East starts November 19th at the Bahrain Exhibition Center.  Look for Al-Mahmood Pearls.


A Passion for Embellishment

Shandra and Friend wearing Her Creations

My friend Shandra soars as an expat housewife.

Whether she is living in Kuwait, Bahrain or Qatar Shandra’s modus operandi is to immediately decorate her house, have her neighbors over for tea and cake then make the rounds of embassy gatherings and women’s groups to round up an international cadre of friends.  Everyone knows Shandra for her laugh, love of color and her accessories.

Before children and following her husband on his career adventures, she manufactured a line of children’s clothing.   Now after several years of embracing the expat social life, she has returned to her roots and designed a line of jewelry.  Shandra’s eclectic style has a kind of Betsey Johnson eccentricity without the witchiness.  An artist by training, she takes everyday objects causing them to pop with a new life as a body ornament.

On Dec 4th, the denizen of Bahrain charities, Lynne Al Wazzan is hosting an open house.  Shandra and several other expat women will display their jewelry bags, clothing, accessories and paintings in Lynne’s elegant Saar home.  A quintessential ladies coffee morning, bring your wallet, stop by and have a chat with the artists as you browse the treasures you never knew you had to have.

Dec 4, 2011 Embellished Art Day

As Shandra leads an active social life, the morning will begin at a very respectable 10:30am and will last until 4:30pm leaving her just enough time to get ready for her evening engagement.

Winter’s Tale Bazar Featuring Tiny Us

A Winter's Tale Bazar Nov 27 and 28

Christmas is coming.  The goose is getting fat

Please put a dinar in the Presence School’s hat.

If you don’t have a dinar, a dollar will do.

If you don’t have a dollar, then God bless you.

Tiny Us will be at Mansoor Garden 6 Villa 38

Nov 27 10-12

Nov 28 9-12 then 6-9


Tales by Chapter

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