Pearl sales and prices continue to spike at rates few of us have ever witnessed in our lifetimes. Pearls are seen everywhere in the press, on celebrities, and on everyday citizens. As a dealer, it's a great time to be in business, but replacing items that sell—and at the same prices—is another huge challenge.
For the past year, dealers have faced price increases from farmers, particularly Japanese Akoya Pearl farmers, every few months. This is because of the yearslong decline in the number of Japanese pearl farmers and the spread of disease among some oyster populations in farms. Illness can be difficult to prevent at the farm level, so while American dealers can sympathize with the farmers' plight, our reality is that there are fewer pearls available to purchase. With ongoing demand from China, American collectors are struggling to purchase pearls at past seasons' prices. This is why retailers may notice that Japanese Akoya pearl prices are up nearly 100% year over year.
In our business, retailers are sharing the good news that their clients are still falling for Japanese Akoya pearls, and despite higher prices, many continue to reorder strands and studs. A more recent development in the business was the insanity at the recent Jewellery & Gem World Hong Kong show. Most pearl companies were sold out by the second day of the show, as Chinese customers flocked to buy every saltwater cultured pearl in sight. One of the most prominent Tahitian pearl auctions, which is held right after the show, was cancelled on the last day of the show because the farmer sold the whole lot privately to a Chinese company. White and golden south sea cultured pearls, meanwhile were sold out at the auction at unbelievably high prices.
Fortunately for many U.S. merchants, CPAA member dealers and jewelry makers have well-established connections in the pearl world that translate to inventory sales many other simply can't access. Please get acquainted with CPAA members, some of whom are the largest pearl jewelry producers in the U.S. See our entire membership list online at CPAA.org.
Have questions about membership or need sourcing help? Reach out to me or Executive Director Jennifer Heebner at contact@baggins jewelry.com or JHeebner@cpaa.org.