Betty Sue King - otherwise known as "The Pearl Goddess" - created King’s Ransom in 1979. She was an elementary schoolteacher in San Francisco when a newly enacted law prompted massive layoffs. Fortuitously an opportunity to wholesale diamonds provided the impetus to carve out a career in the gem industry. Soon her inventory expanded to cabochons, carvings, classic and phenomenal gems, pearls and designer jewelry. Pearls took precedence when she began buying overseas and soon they became her headliners. From the very beginning, unusual and seductively sublime pearls with unique allure have been her selection criteria.
“I consistently find colors and special pearls I have never seen before when I travel overseas. Pearls that shimmer with fine orient and brilliant luster simply call out to me like a siren and I cannot resist. When special strands are somewhat promising, I am able to change pearls to make them scintillating.
This comes from having formed close relationships with a handful of suppliers over the years. They know how high I grade and that I select only the best. They collect new products for me to review so often I am the first to select from new offerings. I communicate regularly with them to stay updated with the caprices of current pearl harvests and hear about what’s new in pearls.”
When Betty Sue returns from overseas buying trips, everyone wants to be the first to find fresh new treasures. Designer clients rely on her to bring them the best and most unusual pearls providing inspiration to push their design boundaries beyond expectations. Manufacturers trust her to evaluate color (along with quality) for their productions, colors such as Key lime blonde, Caribbean blue sea, sage and celery, and Golden Philippine sunrise SSPs.
King’s Ransom’s inventory’s strength is in the broad range of freshwater pearls that continually evolve with new shapes, sizes and intense colors. Estate dealers looking for loose one-millimeter pearls find what they need. Contemporary brides complete their pearl trousseaus selecting from white blush nuggets and white angel wing keshi, and can explore a cornucopia of loose pearls and stands with white cloud mabes, pink sky rounds, and lavender sunset Biwa style in natural colors. Milk chocolate rounds, turquoise surf bits and deep blue sea nuggets are some of the newer dyed colors. Freshwater nucleated pearls have become more affordable in fine quality and lovely floral colors. Luster finish, shape and color have consistently improved making them more and more attractive with fully shaped, rounder pearls that rival those from South Sea locales.
Her ecumenical rainbows of Tahitian colors are found in pairs, loose and strands. Arresting peacock colors splash over surfaces and your eyes don’t want to leave. Chocolate truffle pairs and espresso strands in natural colors are in demand. Loose pearls in celadon, tropical blue, midnight black Tahitian pearls in sizes under 8 to 16mm are readily available as are multicolor strands. South Sea round and baroque pearls from Australia the Philippines, and New Zealand abalone mabe complete her prolific offerings. Finely matched pairs of white and golden, graceful white baroques, finely tuned brilliant golden singles, strands of rounds and baroque SSP are all within reach. Also not to be missed are King’s Ransom’s classic, fine quality Japanese and Chinese akoya pearls.
In working intimately with virtually every segment of the pearl industry, her goal is to stay atop of current and future trends. She is keenly interested in matching pearls with clients’ skin tones, hair color, preferences, special occasions and budgets. “In the process we grow in tune to each other’s experiences of pearls by sharing lives, philosophy, psychology and numerous moments that are mutually enriching.”
Teaching comes naturally to the “Pearl Goddess”. A popular speaker, Betty Sue has shared her wit and wisdom about pearls at the AGTA Tucson GemFair™ Seminars, GIA Alumni Associations, WJA, NAJA, ISA and ASA NorCal. She has been a featured discussion leader at Bonhams & Butterfields. She will be returning to speak again in July 2010 at The Antique Jewelry & Art Conference (Jewelry Camp). Always ready to share her passion, Betty Sue takes all inquiries to heart and seeks to replace confusion with clarity.
Knowledge alone is not enough to survive the competition from mass marketers, retailers & Internet sites. In staff training, Betty Sue weaves the technology and romance of pearls with the understanding of the human psyche and our natural obsession for beauty. This combination is designed to fuel the staff with inspiration for quality sales and meaningful customer relations that last.
Her collective knowledge of pearls, trends and new products is quoted in numerous trade journal articles. From her extensive travels to cultured pearl sites with GIA’s Cultured Pearl Tours, she has contributed her writing and photography in GIA’s Loupe. When sizeable round Chinese freshwater pearls were initially making a statement, her strands were the poster models that graced the cover of GIA’s Gems & Gemology, summer 2000. Most recently, her chocolate pearls are featured on the cover of the AGTA GemFair™ Tucson 2010 mailer.
She reviewed the book, Pearls, A Natural History for GIA’s Gems & Gemology. Betty Sue wrote about her experiences in the pearl industry in Auction Market Resource, June 2002, “Cultured Pearls Galore: A Tucson Retrospective”. In 2005, she was nominated for the Award of Excellence by the San Francisco Chapter of the WJA and for the Trailblazer Award by NAWBO. Her degrees are a B.A. from University of Arizona and M.A. from Arizona State University, both in Elementary Education. Minors in Art and English find expression in how she sees the aesthetics of beauty and translates them into words. Her formal education and teaching experience are integral to her inspirational presentations. She also serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors of the American Gem Trade Association, an organization that promotes industry standards of professional and ethical business practices.
Enthusiastic clients say: With Betty Sue it is not just about the product it is about the passion and love of this queen of gems. Her passion is infectious, her knowledge is poetic, and her style is unique (C. Ellias). You truly do touch the divine. Your efforts are akin to the goddess Diana, the true huntress who searches the globe and discovers tempting treasures that dazzle the eyes and pause the heart. … We bow upon bended knee to the great divine of nature and its champion huntress (L. Ponter).
Betty Sue continues: “With kudos from my clients and a resurgence in holiday sales, I remain upbeat about the direction of the economy. Pearls have enduring traditions of elegance and style in our psyche. We offer buyers quality at a variety of price points with classic and fashion forward pearls to energize and fuel the market. There is no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t want to be in any other business, my passion is obvious, I love what I do.”
At trade shows you can select first hand from a full array of pearls & natural diamond crystals.
Betty Sue King can be reached at: