Live oyster-opening events are all the rage, especially on Facebook Live. Party hosts open oysters to reveal pearls, which party followers then purchase. Love these parties or hate them, but make sure you understand the facts behind these events before you buy in.
About Oyster Parties
Live oyster parties can take several forms. Here are some of the most popular styles:
- Facebook Live oyster-opening event: These parties are by far the most popular and some reel in thousands of dollars per event. The host of the party opens oysters one-by-one, usually bought in advance by participants, or purchased during the event. Each oyster will contain at least one pearl, but sometimes up to three or more. The host usually suggests a few sterling silver settings that participants can choose from, and the pearl will be set in the chosen design before it is sent to the buyer.
- Local oyster-opening party: These parties are usually hosted in someone’s house or as part of an existing local event. Friends of the host or people from the community are invited to attend. At these parties, the host shows participants how to open the oysters. The participants then open the oysters that they have bought. Once opened, suitable jewelry settings can be selected for an additional cost.
- In-store oyster openings: Some jewelers and other specialty stores, like the Disney Pick-A-Pearl or the famous Pearl Factory in Hawaii, offer an in-store oyster-opening experience.
Facts about Oyster-Opening Parties
People usually attend these events not only for the pearls they can get but also for the unique and interesting experience. Unfortunately, many participants are not aware of the value of the pearl – or lack thereof – that they are likely to get. This is what you need to know about oyster-opening parties:
- Saltwater vs. Freshwater: Oysters are mostly found in saltwater and they produce saltwater pearls. Freshwater pearls are produced in mussels. Most pearls used in oyster-opening parties are freshwater pearls, which are implanted into used oysters right before packaging. The pearls are real, but unfortunately, they are often misrepresented as being the more valuable saltwater pearls.
- Quality: Freshwater pearls used for oyster-opening parties are of regular quality and luster. The pearls would have been bought wholesale for anything between $0.10 and $3.50, depending on the mollusk type, and sold to party attendees at anything from $25 to $200.
- Colors: Freshwater pearls come in a wide variety of pastel colors such as peach, pink, purple, bronze, champagne, as well as white. Pearls are often dyed green, silver, black, or dark gold to meet market demand. Saltwater Akoya oysters, on the other hand, can produce exquisite pearl colors, such as silver-blue, but these are very expensive due to their high quality and scarcity. Party hosts attach a value to the pearls based on a chart where colors like blue-silver and black are appraised higher. Participants often have the false perception that they are buying high-value Akoya pearls for a bargain price, when in fact they are getting dyed freshwater pearls.
- Addictive nature: These parties can also be quite addictive. Say for example that the oyster you bought delivers one black pearl, which you would like to use for a pair of earrings. You might be tempted to buy more oysters until you find a similar pearl to complete the pair. The sad truth is that you can get complete earring sets of much higher quality and at lower prices in your desired color and design from a pearl jeweler.
- Oyster meat: This one is probably obvious, but worth a mention. The oysters used at these parties are not fresh, and therefore not edible. Oysters are often chemically treated to keep them from spoiling. Their meat is harmful if ingested.
A Final Word on Oyster-Opening Parties
Oyster parties can be fun and something new and out-of-the-ordinary to do. If this is the reason why you want to participate, go ahead. But if you’re under the impression that you will be able to buy highly-valuable saltwater pearls at a good price, you are about to be conned.