The Pearl market in Australia has been quite strong for a number of years. Jewelers usually stock pearls as supplementary products to gemstone set jewelry, however, in the last ten years or so, specialized pearl retailers have made an appearance in the marketplace proving that pearls are popular and can be sold as the main product of choice. Chinese freshwater pearls have helped this process as it gives consumers more choice of product and price points. When first introduced into the local market, most of the product available was inexpensive and medium to low grade, which greatly impacted the market for saltwater akoya, which was its closest competitor at the time. The market observed a downturn in quality within the saltwater akoya pearl as producers tried to compete with the lower price of the freshwater product. However, in Australia, we are now seeing better quality akoya again as this product is coming back into the market. Yet the question persists; is it saltwater or freshwater pearl? While it may be imported from Japan—the traditional saltwater producer of akoya—we all know that the pearl beds in Japan are all but gone and now the Japanese are themselves importing product from China. To the store clerk or appraiser all that we can tell is that it is bead nucleated and looks like a similar product that was available 15-20 years ago. The question is, does the consumer know or even care? While consumers seem to...
The Pearl market in Australia has been quite strong for a number of years. Jewelers usually stock pearls as supplementary products to gemstone set jewelry, however, in the last ten years or so, specialized pearl retailers have made an appearance in the marketplace proving that pearls are popular and can be sold as the main product of choice. Chinese freshwater pearls have helped this process as it gives consumers more choice of product and price points. When first introduced into the local market, most of the product available was inexpensive and medium to low grade, which greatly impacted the market for saltwater akoya, which was its closest competitor at the time. The market observed a downturn in quality within the saltwater akoya pearl as producers tried to compete with the lower price of the freshwater product. However, in Australia, we are now seeing better quality akoya again as this product is coming back into the market. Yet the question persists; is it saltwater or freshwater pearl? While it may be imported from Japan—the traditional saltwater producer of akoya—we all know that the pearl beds in Japan are all but gone and now the Japanese are themselves importing product from China. To the store clerk or appraiser all that we can tell is that it is bead nucleated and looks like a similar product that was available 15-20 years ago. The question is, does the consumer know or even care? While consumers seem to...

Pearls – Freshwater or Saltwater?

Posted on November 2, 2015 by Kym Hughes, FGA, FGAA

The Pearl market in Australia has been quite strong for a number of years. Jewelers usually stock pearls as supplementary products to gemstone set jewelry, however, in the last ten years or so, specialized pearl retailers have made an appearance in the marketplace proving that pearls are popular and can be sold as the main product of choice. Chinese freshwater pearls have helped this process as it gives consumers more choice of product and price points. When first introduced into the local market, most of the product available was inexpensive and medium to low grade, which greatly impacted the market for saltwater akoya, which was its closest competitor at the time. The market observed a downturn in quality within the saltwater akoya pearl as producers tried to compete with the lower price of the freshwater product. However, in Australia, we are now seeing better quality akoya again as this product is coming back into the market. Yet the question persists; is it saltwater or freshwater pearl? While it may be imported from Japan—the traditional saltwater producer of akoya—we all know that the pearl beds in Japan are all but gone and now the Japanese are themselves importing product from China. To the store clerk or appraiser all that we can tell is that it is bead nucleated and looks like a similar product that was available 15-20 years ago. The question is, does the consumer know or even care? While consumers seem to...

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