Pearls born in the river.
Jewelry created by top designers.
Full circle support for Missouri’s clean streams.
MSTWC is thrilled to announce The River Pearl Event, a cooperative effort among MSTWC and 11 of Missouri’s top jewelers to benefit the Missouri Stream Team Program. We found the pearls and gave them to Missouri’s top jewelers across the state. They donated their time, gemstones, and precious metals to create truly unique and one of a kind pieces of jewelry featuring very rare and natural Mississippi River Pearls.
Announcing the winners of the River Pearl Event Raffle! Congrats to Larry Ruff, winner of the Dragonfly Broach by Laura Pool and Dianne Ballard, winner of the Pearl and Topaz Necklace by Jason and Jordan Sturm.
100% of sales from the purchase of these remarkable pieces go to support the Missouri Stream Team Program.
We’re proud to present the following jewelers:
We have designed a neckpiece around the pearl you provided us and put a name to it: Hazy Lazy Missouri River Sunset. It features 24 genuine blue sapphires (river) and one lab grown padparadscha sapphire (sun) weighing 3/4 ct. total, set in 14k white and yellow gold surrounding the pearl and attached to a 14k gold spega style 18″ chain.
Why he’s helping MSTWC: We’re all about our beautiful waterways. No better place to be reflective about life and become peaceful. I have spent time “picking up after others” at the “shut in’s” and other places on our scenic waterways and understand the importance of your organization’s mission.
This fun piece highlights a Mississippi seed pearl and wing pearl in waves of 18k yellow and 14k white gold. The pearls inspired this piece to showcase a kayaker riding a most beautiful wave. The wing pearl becomes the boat and the seed pearl the head of the one riding the wave. Brian sees a kayaker having fun in a free flowing clean river.
Why he’s helping MSTWC: As one of the oldest operated family-owned businesses this side of the Mississippi, Pilchers’ mission is to educate the public about quality jewelry. Working at Pilcher’s was Brian Fuller’s first job out of school in 1976, and after making jewelry elsewhere, he returned to the shop in 2000. “My true passion is to make little things that are symbolically meaningful that will hopefully outlast me,” Brian says. Two of his pearls look like a person in a kayak, so he created a lapel pin that looks like a kayaker riding a wave.
Helping Stream Team was a natural fit, as Brian spends a lot of time fishing on the Missouri River from Hartsburg past Jefferson City. “Since the first Stream Team cleanups happened I thought, ‘How cool.’ It was a giant need, and I was amazed at how they created a wave of volunteerism. I give them high marks for what they’ve done so far.”
Photo Coming Soon!!!
This necklace has a true organic feel and dangles eight Mississippi River Pearls with varied colours: white, purple, and brown. The antique bronze and sterling silver pendant is set with .12 ct diamonds on a handmade blackened steel chain with sterling clasp.
Website: on Facebook
This necklace truly showcases some of nature’s unique gifts. The 9.36 ct. Mississippi River Pearl is nested in a 14k yellow gold casted grapevine. The gold grapevine holds 2 bezel set champagne/chocolate diamonds with a total ct. weight of .44. Inspiration came from the beautiful wineries that are found on the Missouri River across our great state.
Why she’s helping MSTWC: “I’ve been coming to the Lake of the Ozarks my whole life,” Jayme says. “Have even lived on the lake. I realize how clean water is important to us all!”
Location: Jefferson City
This spunky rooster has a .04 ct. yellow diamond eye with a rare 4.07 ct. Mississippi River Pearl at his chest. This broach was hand designed and set in sterling silver.
Why she’s helping MSTWC: Coming soon!
Location: St. Louis
This sophisticated necklace was created using a Mississippi River Pearl with a most vibrant luster and 5.89 ct. weight. The pearl is featured and held by 14k white gold pieces encrusted with 10 single cut round diamonds with a total weight of .10 ct.
Why they are helping MSTWC: In addition to having extensive experience with pearls (they’ve visited pearl farms in Japan and China and won several American pearl contestst), this family-run business has a true passion for Missouri nature. “We have a beautiful state, and we enjoy nature, and we enjoy the rivers and waters, and we really appreciate this opportunity to help,” Elizabeth says. “I’m so pleased that all of the jewelers wanted to help participate.” Elizabeth and Charles picked out the pearls they used, and Curt Parker designed a diamond-ringed pearl necklace for MSTWC.
Location: Osage Beach
This whimsical creation of dragon and pearls will catch many eyes. The pendant’s background shell is a blue point mussel from the Osage River and the dragon and frame are made of green silver. The dragon’s wing and horn are Mississippi River Pearls with total weight of 2.28ct and the piercing eye is a natural emerald. The necklace is cultured freshwater pearls. The inspiration was from the section of the Osage River Mike lives on and the Magic Dragon represents the Lake of the Ozarks.
Why he’s helping MSTWC: Michael’s shop is studded with pictures of fish, water birds, and scenes from beautiful rivers. He takes long paddle trips to new places at least once a year, and was the first jeweler to sign on to our project. We’re grateful for his knowledge and advice as we got started on this project.
Location: St. Robert
The dragonfly is an icon of waterways and spends a portion of their lives as an aquatic insect. This dragonfly broach has 8 Mississippi River Pearls with a total weight of 7.9 ct. for its elegant body set in 14kt yellow gold. The intricate wings are filigree 14k white gold. This piece was handmade using the “Lost Wax” casting method.
Why she’s helping MSTWC: Coming soon!
Website: Pointer’s Jewelers on Facebook
Teenage brothers, Jordan and Joseph Sturm have created a hand fabricated, original design, continuum silver necklace. The necklace contains continuum silver wire links pulled individually by hand from raw casting grains. All pearl and stone settings were uniquely formed to fit each stone. The twelve Mississippi River Pearls have a total ct. weight of 11.54 and were drilled and set to maximize their natural beauty. The prong set center stone is a hexagon Swiss blue topaz with a fantasy cut. The Swiss blue topaz measures 12X9 mm and weighs 4.621 ctw. The links hang from and adjustable sterling silver spiga style chain. This extraordinary neckpiece can be worn at 18” or 16” in length.
Why they’re helping MSTWC: Jordan was 12 years old when parents bought a local jewelry store and has watched been alongside them in learning a new business over the past six years.”I decided to help [with MSTWC] to challenge myself and really test what I can do,” Jordan says. As an 18-year-old jeweler, he’s enjoyed the special assignment along with the creative freedom our event allows. His necklace is incorporating a discontinued cut of Swiss blue topaz.
This necklace was created and designed with inspiration from “hope”. The 14k yellow gold bird gracefully cradles a truly ornate and unique 4.22ct Mississippi River Pearl. This graceful bird nurtures and watches over the pearl with a .015ct diamond. Designer named this piece “Holly’s Hope”.
Why he’s helping MSTWC: Although James is busy at his store in the daytime (he runs Artisan Jewelers with his mother and two brothers), he has spent evenings at home casting gold for a pendant. The challenge of the slug shapes matches his artistic creativity. “It’s better than doing the same old stuff all the time,” he says. “These pearls have some crazy shapes to them,” he says. “My biggest one is kind of oval with a couple nubs coming off of it. It’s also got a little silver and gold to it.”
This pendant has a center stone of 23ct of genuine ribbon turquoise and symbolizes a river. It is surrounded by Mississippi River Pearls with a total weight of 8.62ct. and small natural sleeping beauty turquoise stones. All are set in genuine leather and are accented with antique cooper rims, nail heads and findings. This piece reflects the beauty of nature and the beautiful streams that are a part of our Great State.
Why he’s helping MSTWC: Jeff says it seemed like a cool project, which is flattering coming from someone with a business called, “Rowdy Cowgirl.” He hunts and fishes.
Special Thanks to Mike Eagle who donated his time and talents to photograph the River Pearl collection.
Ready for a history lesson?
Freshwater pearls have been collected over certain time periods, and ones from the Mississippi River Basin are especially rare and unique. There was a big pearl boom in the 1800s when mussel shells were used for making buttons. Pearls were a byproduct of harvesting of shells.
Mussel diving subsided after plastics were invented, until the late 1900s, when the cultured pearl industry found that shell pieces from Mississippi River mussels were the perfect irritant to create a cultured pearl. Mussel shells were shipped in massive quantities to Japan for creating perfectly round, cultured pearls. Just like before, Mississippi River pearls were discovered inside those mussels, and they made their way to jewelers and other collectors.
Now, mussel diving is illegal in many places because of the decrease of mussel population, but pearls are still hidden around…
What we’re doing
History aside, freshwater pearls are just downright intriguing and beautiful. We love them because of their irregularity and uniqueness in colour, shape, and size.
Earlier this year, MSTWC director Holly Neill had a vision to utilize precious creations of nature as a way to support our most precious resource: water! She began hunting for pearls that came from Mississippi River mussels. Tom Allard, of Allard Custom Jewelers in Davenport, Iowa, cracked open his vault just for her. He had bags full of “slugs”—pearls in unconventional shapes and colors—that he had collected over decades from Mississippi River divers. “I like the ones that I could make birds and fish and stuff that had a lot of character,” he says.
The Missouri Stream Team Watershed Coalition is providing a rare opportunity to own Mississippi River pearl jewelry made by eleven Missouri artists. With pearls donated from Tom’s collection, the jewelers are donating their time and materials—including precious metals and gems such as diamonds—to make truly unique, gorgeous and local jewelry.
We’re excited to work with talents across our great state and use their creativity to highlight these natural phenomenons in one-of-a-kind pieces of Mississippi River pearl jewelry. All proceeds will benefit MSTWC.