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Developments in and around TAHITI (French Polynesia) Black Pearls

Developments in and around TAHITI (French Polynesia) Black Pearls

wholesale pearlsAs we all know, Tahiti runs a monopoly when it comes to “black pearls”. Ever since it started to produce commercial volumes in the late 1970s, it commanded a global market share (in both weight and value) estimated at between 93 to 95 percent. Tahiti may well be the “Herculean producer of the black pearl”, but it is surely not its pioneer.

The first “black pearls” cultivated in the Pinctada margaritifera oyster date back to the 1920s. The Japanese farmed them for decades in their southern Ryukyu Islands, around Okinawa. But since this black-lip oyster species is available throughout the Indo-Pacific region, many pearl farms were established in places such as the Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Fiji, the Marshall Islands, Indonesia, the Philippines, the Ryukyu Islands, as well as in the Pescadores Islands, located in Taiwan’s Formosa Strait.

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Many of them are now closed, or are just limping along. The most active ones (besides those around Tahiti) are in the Cook Islands and in Fiji. Especially Fiji’s Justin Hunter is worth watching. Well aware that he can never win a numbers game with Tahiti, he wisely puts quality ahead of quantity. But with due respect to all those, their combined output has, and will never pose, any serious threat to Tahiti. During the 1980s and 1990s, Tahitian pearl production went full throttle. Pearls, after Tourism, became Tahiti’s second largest goose to lay the golden eggs. These were the
happy heydays, when all flags were flying.

Here some highlights:
– 1972 (First recorded export) 1.5kg US$3.663.-
– 1983 139kg US$5.0 million
– 1992 1 tonne US$43.5 million
– 1996 5.1 tonnes US$152.4 million
– 2003 to 2008 (annually) 10 to 15 tonnes US$130 million (*)
(*) 2003 to 2008 are very rough estimates (see reason below), whereas figures for 1972 to 1996 are accurate.
sea pearls 5

In other words: in 1996, Tahiti got more money from 5 tonnes of pearls, than it is getting today with annual production volumes that have doubled (by certain estimates even tripled). It looks as if Tahiti’s pearl industry is now drowning in its own success.

What happened?
Sadly, the over-ambitious politicians running the Government of French Polynesia, eager in seeking votes for re-election, had issued farming licenses like Santa Claus throws candies to kids around Christmas time. It is estimated that at its peak time during the late 1990s and early in the 2000s, approximately 1,500 independent pearl farms were operational. During these years, many Tahitians got the “I can do it too” virus in their blood, for which
the only effective antibiotic was to give them a pearl farming license. Some of this happened in the absence of knowledge, ability or capital. But Government and banks were happy to assist. Unfortunately, the Government was too lax to implement control of licenses, leases and quotas.

The situation got out of control, resulting in a huge overproduction, with prices going downhill. After thirty years of enjoying a sellers’ market, Tahiti suddenly woke up, realising that the tides had turned. By 2007, the number of active farms had shrunk to approximately 650. By 2008, estimates run at around 550 (with 50 being medium to large in size, and 500 being small ones). But the decline continues. It is very well possible, that the number will drop to below 350 by the end of this year. Practically every pearl farm still operating in French Polynesia is running dark red figures. This is actually quite amazing! Think of it: There is a country that runs a monopoly, producing beautiful gems that enjoy very high popularity all over the world. Yet, every producer is losing money! Something wrong isn’t it!

As the prices for Tahitian pearls tumbled, the export tax (at 200 CFP/gram) became excessive in relation to the value of the pearls themselves. The result was that in recent years, considerable volumes of pearls were apparently smuggled out of the country (hence, no more accurate statistics). In October 2008, the Government abolished this
export tax. But other export procedures remain in place, including a quality control system by x-ray machine.

By abolishing this export tax (rather than reducing it), the Government strangled the much needed funds used for their very successful promotional campaigns. The “GIE Perles de Tahiti” (Martin Coeroli) had done a good job, over many years, very actively promoting Tahiti’s gems. From 2003 to 2008 alone, between 6 and 9 million US$ dollars were spent annually on worldwide propaganda. But with the export tax totally abolished, and no alternative financial sources available, there is no more money for publicity, and the “GIE Perles de Tahiti” has now died. Came 2008/2009, Tahiti’s second largest industry had not only reached the state of “chaos and disarray”, it had become an embarrassment to its Government, with the world watching in disbelief.

What will the future hold for Tahiti and its pearling industry? Basically, Tahiti has now a couple of choices:

  1. One is that the government maintains its “laissez-faire” attitude, under the motto (or rather the excuse of) “we live in a free country and it’s everybody’s game”. The result will be that the industry is left to open market forces, which actually translates into “elimination by nature”. This would be a painful process for many. But over time, it would normalise the situation.
  2. The second scenario is that the government takes advantage of its monopoly situation, acts swiftly and plays its cards well. Even though living in a “free country”, there is nothing wrong with rules and regulations, with order, control and discipline (look e.g. at the Australian pearling industry). If the Government is now willing to act swiftly by providing funds to support prices of latest crops, by implementing farm control and observing strict discipline, by re-introducing a reasonable export tax (say CFP40/gram, so everybody will pay and smuggling will stop), by re-considering the fees for the “négotiants”, by re-activating the GIE Perles de Tahiti with the resulting funds, by re-activating export customs control, by limiting further expansions of production, etc., then there is hope that Tahiti’s pearl industry will once again become a well respected, trustworthy and prosperous one. It seems the Government is actually thinking of a third scenario, introducing a “pearl centre” or “pearl house”, kind of a “centralised buying and selling organisation”, with a “price-control-system”. Our personal opinion, based on decades long experience, makes us conclude that such system will not work, for reasons we don’t need to elaborate here.

No matter what scenario will develop, the fact remains that many farming operations are in the process of collapsing as we speak. This will result in much lower production volumes, with prices re-bouncing quite drastically in the not-too-distant future. No industry that produces at a cost of 100 and sells at 50 is sustainable. Pearl traders, if you want to buy the dollar at fifty cents, better hurry up!

Article source: Andy Müller, Kobe/Japan, as presented at the European Gemological Symposium in Berne, Switzerland on June 5th, 2009

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This is my name, my phone number and my address, as a sender (written by FedEx)
This is my name, my phone number and my address, as a sender (written by FedEx)

We send your purchasing parcel via FedEx, we inform you the tracking number as soon as possible
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AKOYA Pearls Industry and Market Analysis

AKOYA Pearls Industry and Market Analysis

wholesale pearlsLet’s start with the JAPANESE AKOYA pearls, which have a hundred year long history. Pre-WWII production peaked out in 1938, with a recorded volume of 1 tonne. After the war, production resumed again in 1952. Soon after, it was declared an “Industry of National Importance”, shifting into overdrive, bringing in much needed foreign currency.

As we saw in a previous chart, Japan produced 600 million dollars worth of akoya just 16 years ago. Today, it is down to an estimated 65 million dollars (with high estimates at 70 million). Japan’s akoya production peaked out in 1966, with approximately 230 tonnes, and a market share of close to 100 percent (monopoly!). It never managed to recover. Today’s production, estimated at 12 to 15 tonnes, is just about 6% of what it was back in 1966.

sea pearls 3

Japan, the founding nation and the very pioneer of the cultured pearl, having run a monopoly for decades, seems to breath its last oxygen. Many must be asking WHY?

There are three reasons, listed by order of importance:

  1. First : COMPETITION (South Sea, Tahiti, FWP)
  2. Second : COST of production
  3. Third : POLLUTION of the sea (Some of my colleagues might also mention the “Image and Quality Problem”, a very controversial argument we don’t need to enter now).

Competition, only partially self-inflicted by the Japanese themselves, is by far the most responsible culprit. When consumers were offered an alternative to the akoya, they jumped on it!
sea pearls 4

The cost factor too, is very important. Like in any other Japanese export orientated industry, the exchange rate played a major role. During the first 25 years of akoya production after WWII, salaries were low, and one dollar bought 360 yen. Today, salaries and costs are high, and one dollar buys less than 100 yen. This costing problem coincided

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with the increased competition from pearls farmed abroad, with the result that the sustainability of the entire Japanese akoya pearl industry is now questionable. The problem of sea pollution also plays a certain role, but is of least importance. Today’s sea conditions are less favourable, thus adversely affecting the health and sturdiness of
the oysters. The much talked about productions of akoya pearls farmed by China, South Korea and Vietnam are usually over-rated and exaggerated. These productions never posed a serious threat to Japan. The stories around them were often far-fetched and inflated, and most of the time out of context. In many cases, they were the brainchild of sensational journalism.

The obvious question is: How will the future hold for Japan as a pearling nation? To answer this, one has to differentiate between:

Japan as:

  • the leading producer nation of akoya cultured pearls
  • the global Trading Centre for all kinds of pearls
  • a Pearl Consumer Nation.

As a Global Pearl Trading Centre, Japan is predestined to maintain its #1 position. Admittedly, more wholesale auctions are nowadays held in Hong Kong, than in Japan. But it is an undisputable fact that the largest buyers’ groups at those raw-material auctions are from Japan (Kobe and Ise). Only Japan can offer these key elements in one single basket:

  • Professionalism and Know-How
  • Capacity
  • Tradition
  • Reliability
  • International Customer Base

Don’t get us wrong; nothing against our pearling friends from HK and China. But when it comes to “sensibility, touch and passion” for our product, the Japanese, with their tradition and history, rank first. Another underlining fact in favour of Japan is its domestic market. Even though reduced, it still ranks among the very top in the world.

When it comes to the farming of akoya, the picture looks rather bleak. It is our belief that at least part of Japan’s akoya farmers will survive, because they are in the process of moving into a “Niche Business”. The remaining farms will be small in scale, kind of “Mom and Pop Operations”. Proud of their product and origin, some will be selling their pearls with a kind of “Appellation Controlée” label. They will be operating off the mainstream, selling a specialty, a one-of-akind, for which there will always be a demand. If you are a pearl dealer, you better grab it! Volumes are down, prices are reasonable, and one is getting good value for money!

Article source: Andy Müller, Kobe/Japan, as presented at the European Gemmological Symposium in Berne, Switzerland on June 5th, 2009
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Sea Water Cultured Pearls Industry (Sea Pearls)

Sea Pearls / Cultured Pearl Industry

wholesale pearlsSea pearls, think of Nature, Mystique, Emotions, Excitement, Beauty, Illusions and Dreams. Let us not destroy these dreams. But when we look at the production, and distribution, we are looking at the other side of the coin, which is the professional side.

We talk about a commodity. We talk about a highly competitive industry in a free market system, not based on illusions, emotions and dreams.We face complex problems in both production and marketing and talk hard facts such as economies of scale, market forces, market shares, imbalances between supply and demand resulting in price volatilities, stock management and rotation, cash-flow, return on investment, profit and loss insea pearls .

Within our sea pearls / Seawater Cultured Pearl Industry, we have witnessed the development of three different industries, working quite independently from each other. The “three industries within one industry” are basically separated by the different oyster species producing different sea pearls in different geographical locations:

  • Akoya is the sea pearls from the Pinctada fucata martensii oyster farmed in Japan (and minor production areas in China, Vietnam and Korea).
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  • South Sea Pearls from the black-lipped Pinctada margaritifera oyster farmed in French Polynesia (Tahiti) and other minor producing areas as later mentioned in this report.
  • South Sea Pearls (SSPs) from the white and gold-lipped Pinctada maxima oyster farmed in Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar (and minor producing areas in Sabah and PNG).

The sea pearls basically run on different tracks. But when it comes to marine science and biology, farming methods, systems and techniques, these three industries often overlap. And they all face similar situations and problems when it comes to the marketing, where they are in direct competition.

The global sea pearls / Seawater cultured pearl industry is very small in relation to diamonds, or other industries employing over 10,000 people producing higher value merchandise. What comes as a surprise to most is that the global industry has dramatically shrunk in value over the past fifteen or sixteen years. We talk in terms of values ex sea pearls farm (the value the farmers are getting for their produce by selling it to the wholesale trade):

  • From an estimated 800 million dollars in 1993, it dropped to approximately US$ 500 million in 1999 and for 2009, we estimate it at approximately US$ 370 million.
  • In terms of value, this is less than 50% when compared to just sixteen years ago!
    sea pearls 1

But one must analyse the three industries separately, as they have developed quite independently from each other over decades.
sea pearls 2

Article source: Andy Müller, Kobe/Japan, as presented at the European Gemmological Symposium in Berne, Switzerland on June 5th, 2009
south sea pearls wholesaleFor Questions and answer you can contact & chat with us on:

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We send your purchasing parcel via FedEx, we inform you the tracking number as soon as possible

This is my name, my phone number and my address, as a sender (written by FedEx)
This is my name, my phone number and my address, as a sender (written by FedEx)

We send your purchasing parcel via FedEx, we inform you the tracking number as soon as possible
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Pearl Quality

Pearl Quality

wholesale pearlsBecause pearls are naturally occurring organic gemstones, created by living creatures, the factors that impact quality and value vary widely. The value of a pearl quality is measured by several factors.

These pearl quality factors include:

  1. Pearl Type
  2. Nacre
  3. Lustre
  4. Surface
  5. Shape
  6. Colour
  7. Size

Pearl Quality in Pearl Type

The type of pearl is the most basic factor to consider. The common varieties of cultured pearls include freshwater pearls, and saltwater Akoya, South Sea and Tahitian pearls. Each type of pearl is created by a different species of oyster, living in a different area of the world, under a variety of climatic conditions. South Sea and Tahitian pearls are generally larger than Akoya and freshwater pearls, and each type tends to have its own distinctive range of colours.

Pearl Quality in Nacre

Nacre is the organic substance, secreted by the mollusc, from which the pearl is formed. Colour and lustre are actually characteristics of the nacre itself. Usually the thicker the nacre is the more valuable the pearl.

Pearl Quality in Lustre

A pearl’s lustre is a measure of its brilliance and reflectivity. High-quality pearls are bright and shiny – you should be able to see your reflection in them. Lower-quality pearls have a chalkier or dull appearance. In general, saltwater pearls have a greater lustre than freshwater pearls.

Pearl Quality in Surface

The surface appearance of a pearl is a critical characteristic. Pearls should be smooth and shiny, without bumps, lines, spots, or discolorations. The surface should be shiny and reflective not dull and chalky.

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Pearl Quality in Shape

The shape of a pearl is where “value” and personal taste may differ. Perfectly round pearls are extremely rare, and therefore very expensive. Pearls come in a wide variety of interesting and unique shapes.

Some examples include:

  • Round – perfectly spherical
  • Near or Semi Round – slightly flattened or elongated
  • Button – slightly flattened into a disk-like “button” shape
  • Pear – elongated teardrop-shaped
  • Drop – teardrop shaped
  • Oval – egg-shaped
  • Baroque abstract and asymmetrical
  • Ringed concentric indentations or rings
  • Colour Pearl colour ranges across almost the entire spectrum from white to black. Naturally occurring colours include silver, cream, champagne, green, and blue. A pearl’s reflective overtones are different from its basic colour. This reflectivity gives pearls in the same colour category, a variety of looks and hues. Although some colours less common than others, and therefore more expensive, colour is another area where “value” and personal taste may vary.
  • Size The size of pearls is measured in millimetres. Pearls today range in size from less than 1mm (seed pearls) to 14mm or larger. The average size of pearls on the market today, range in size from 6.5mm to 8mm. The size of a pearl directly impacts its quality and price. Larger pearls are generally more expensive.
  • Other factors come into play when evaluating a pearls quality and value. Natural pearls are the most valuable, but most pearls on the market today are treated in some way or another. Some treatments do not impact the value of pearls while others do.

south sea pearls wholesaleFor Questions and answer you can contact & chat with us on:

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This is my name, my phone number and my address, as a sender (written by FedEx)
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Pearl Care & Handling – south sea pearl necklace

Pearl Care & Handling – south sea pearl necklace

wholesale pearlsCultured saltwater and freshwater pearls are more fragile than most other gemstones so they must be handled with the utmost care to keep them in their best condition. Remember that natural body oils help enhance your pearl’s lustre, but that perfumes, soaps, hairspray and makeup can damage a pearl’s lustre and stain the silk the pearls are knotted on. Pearls also scratch easily so always store them very carefully (Reference: south sea pearl necklace)

Pearls Care – south sea pearl necklace

  1. Re-knot your pearl necklaces periodically to ensure that the silk or nylon cord holding them is in good shape. Knotting between pearls prevents loosing pearls if the strand should break.
  2. Always put your pearls on after you’ve applied your makeup, perfume and hairspray.
  3. Take your pearl rings off before applying lotions or creams.

Pearls Cleaning – south sea pearl necklace

  1. Gently wipe your pearls with a soft, lint-free cloth each time you take them off. The cloth may be dry or damp. If damp, allow the pearls to air dry before putting them away.
  2. Dirty pearls may be cleaned with a mild soap and water solution or a specialty pearl cleaning solution.
  3. Never clean your pearls with solutions that contain ammonia or harsh detergents.
  4. Don’t use an abrasive cleaner or wipe pearls with an abrasive cloth as both can scratch the nacre coating.
  5. Don’t use an ultrasonic cleaner to clean pearl jewellery.

Pearls Storage – south sea pearl necklace

    1. Store your pearls separately from other jewellery. Pearls can be easily scratched when metal or gemstones rub against them.
    2. Place your pearls in a special slot in your jewellery box, or keep them in a soft bag made from a non-abrasive material.
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(Reference: south sea pearl necklace)For Questions and answer you can contact & chat with us on:

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abdurrachim pearl fedex
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This is my name, my phone number and my address, as a sender (written by FedEx)
This is my name, my phone number and my address, as a sender (written by FedEx)

We send your purchasing parcel via FedEx, we inform you the tracking number as soon as possible
We send your purchasing parcel via FedEx, we inform you the tracking number as soon as possible

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