Ohrid is famous for its OHRID PEARLS. The Talevi family fervently guard the tradition and the single recipe for the manufacturing of this beautiful and unique jewelery. Since 1924, the Talevi family has been designing Ohrid Pearls. The secret of preparations of the emulsion has been passed from father to son.
The pearl's origin begins with scales of the Ohrid fish - Plasica - Ohridski biseri.
Along the main shopping street, you will find many jewel shops displaying Ohrid pearls. These will be more expensive, as the biggest cost of the jewellery is the silver settings.
The secret of making pearls from PLASHICA, a fish endemic to Lake Ohrid, is passing from father to son.
The pearl jewellery, produced by FILEVI since 1928, has been recognized as "Genuine Ohrid Pearl".
The word is that in 2001, Queen Elizabeth was presented with Ohrid Pearls by the then Macedonian president's wife. So, the humble Ohrid pearl is now part of the Royal Jewels Collection. It follows that if it's good enough for the Queen, than it's good enough for the rest of us.
The reason that this pearl is so special is that it is totally man made ie created from the scales of the little fish called Plasica. Jewel makers use traditional, painstaking methods to produce these pearls and for the amount of work that would be involved, the pearls are not too expensive. The stall sellers around the tourist sites sell some cheap earings and hand strung pearls for $10-20, so there's no reason to miss out although some of these may not be genuine) . The pearls set in gold and with unique designs are of course much more expensive and are sold in the numerous jewelry shops around the city streets and the genuiness of the product is guaranteed.
A definite must buy
As you go up the main shopping street [with you back to the lake] I've found the best filigree and "pearls" at some of the smaller shops on the left side.
What to buy: Ohrid "pearls" are made of scales from the little fish "Plasica". A lot of what is sold as genuine is just regular mother of pearl.
Of the items in the picture, which exhibit the characteristic silver beading and filigree, the small round earrings on the right are the only ones I am certain are the real thing.
Please click on the picture to see the details.
What to pay: Silver is sold by weight -- you can get nice small pieces for between 8-12 USD as of July 2000.
Ohrid pearls are local custom for more than eight decades. They are untouched by globalisation and will not be because their production requires the scales of the endemic Ohrid Lake Plasica fish. That makes Ohrid pearls a perfect buy for those visiting Ohrid.
Supposedly there are only two families who know the Ohrid’s best kept secret – the secret of making the pearls. Whether it is the perfect propaganda trick of Talev family and Filev family or not, they are widely known and recommended.
We have picked the Filev family. The main reason probably lays in the fact that their charming tiny shop called Antica is the part of the special atmosphere of the old city of Ohrid. Antica, mostly known by descriptive name – Ohrid pearls, Mihajlo Filev is located near the Robev family house. Talev family shop is in "the touristiest" modern street of Ohrid – Sveti Kliment, which was not so appealing. Anyway, it would be unfair not to mention very informative Talev web presentation.
What to pay: Ohrid pearls are not very expensive in Ohrid, but we have found some information on the internet about a pearl necklace produced in Ohrid reaching a price of $7.500 at an auction in the USA.
Everyone who sells something sells pearls but... there are pearls and "pearls". There are salesmen selling souvenirs and pearls near almost every point of interest in Ohrid but I don't know how to recognize true pearls. Except by the price,of course. One can buy pearls at hotels and prices are 30euros and up depending on what is included. There are really great earrings, necklaces, bracelets in many colours not just white. They all look fantastic. And if you don't know what are pearls and what "pearls", maybe the only way to be sure is to buy them in a jewelry shop with certificates.