Professional Jeweler Archive: Pearl Essence

July 2002


Pearl Essence

Tahitians dominate the new crop of pearl jewelry, but creative design is the real story this year

Cultured pearls continue to inspire jewelry designers and charm the fashion world, making them good products to promote in your store this autumn. Abundant supplies, often at affordable prices, place them squarely in designers’ sights, and no category of cultured pearls is drawing more attention than Tahitians. A wide array of sizes, shapes and exotic colors is available in beautiful designs that cradle, nestle, dangle and otherwise spotlight their delicious hues.

An oversupply of Tahitian cultured pearls has caused a drop in prices. Last August, the French Polynesian government passed new controls to stop the flood of inferior pearls onto the market, and many pearl experts think the market is beginning to stabilize. Be careful when pricing these pearls, because if prices do stabilize and then increase, you’ll want to maintain some consistency in your range so you don’t confuse or anger customers.

What Else Is Out There?

Freshwater cultured pearls from China offer less-expensive choices and continue to be in good supply, rounder and prettier than in the past. Pastel colors are particularly popular right now, and consumers are choosing unusual shapes and sizes, along with the almost-round white varieties.

South Sea and golden cultured pearls are expensive in the larger, best qualities, but remain the unrivaled choice for customers preparing to buy true luxury. The Australian government maintains tight control on availability, but new competitors in the Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar may cause some price lowering. Smaller South Sea cultured pearls are more moderately priced, at least compared with their bigger cousins.

Japanese akoyas are still difficult to obtain in high-quality matching strands, but middle-to-lower-quality pearls are more available. The good news is recent efforts to stem mollusk viruses and pollution in Japan seem to be working.

Jewelry Trends

Yellow gold is the metal of choice to show off pearls of all varieties, though some designers use white gold or platinum to highlight certain Tahitian culture pearl hues effectively.

Meanwhile, the spare use of pearls in most designs means the jewelry is as much about the setting as the gem. When selling the latest styles, point out how designers celebrate pearls with unusual flair this year.

18K yellow gold collection features a silver akoya cultured pearl pendant and ring and a golden South Sea cultured pearl ring. Suggested retail, $6,380 for the pendant and necklace, $3,830 for the silver pearl ring and $5,990 for the South Sea pearl ring.

Fabergé by Victor Mayer, Pforzheim, Germany; (800) 782-7441 or (49-7231) 91870,

Earrings with 10mm-10.5mm black Tahitian cultured pearls are $1,800 keystone.

Baumell Pearl Co., San Francisco, CA; (800) 247-8222 or (415) 421-2113, fax (415) 421-2753.

Jewelry features freshwater cultured pearls. Suggested retail, $1,020 for the leaf earrings, $480 for the angel reflection earrings and $650 for the pod hoops.

Ronna Lugosch, Round Pond, M; (800) 299-7734 or (207) 529-6050, fax (207) 529-7000.

New Moon suite features bracelet, pendant and earrings with black cultured pearls and diamonds. Suggested retail, $2,892 for the bracelet, $392 for the pendant and $472 for the earrings.

The Touch, Waltham, MA;(800) 556-0041,

Captive Pearl ring features a gold wire that runs over the black Tahitian cultured pearl, holding it firmly in place on its post. Available in 18k yellow gold or platinum.

Claude Thibaudeau, Montreal, QC, Canada; (514) 397-9411, fax (514) 397-8855,

14k gold earrings cradle gray Tahitian cultured pearls and white South Sea cultured pearls.

Pedro Boregaard, New York City; (212) 826-3660, fax (212) 826-3722.

14k gold ring and pendant contain 8mm black Tahitian cultured pearls and diamond accents. The ring is $1,630 suggested retail, the pendant is $1,530.

The Rothenberg Collection, Van Nuys, CA; (818) 786-7512, fax (818) 786-7513.

18k red gold “Grapes” necklace use colored Chinese freshwater cultured pearls.

Tamara Comolli, KWM Exclusives, New York City; (212) 570-6065, fax (212) 570-6720.

“Floating Spheres” earring and pendant set featuring white cultured pearls. Suggested retail: $235 for earrings, $375 for pendant and neckwire.

Ed Levin Jewelry, Cambridge, NY; (518) 677-8595.

18k gold earrings dangle 8.5mm Tahitian cultured pearls accented by diamonds. Suggested retail, $4,450.

Erenesto Moreira, Houston, TX; (713) 523-2899,fax (713) 783-0939.

Three-pearl dangling earrings.

Imperial Pearl Co., East Providence, RI; (401) 434-2597, fax (401) 434-0814,

7-in. stretch bracelet has freshwater cultured pearls and 14k gold beads.

Stuller Settings Inc., Lafayette, LA; (800) 877-7777 or (337) 262-7700, fax (800) 444-4741 or (337) 981-1655.

14K gold earrings hold yellow South Sea cultured pearls with removable diamond charms. Suggested retail, $1,200.

Just Jules, Scottsdale, AZ; (480) 860-6211, fax (480) 860-4488.

Seed pearl necklace features Burmese icy jade butterfly pendant and a 14k gold clasp. Suggested retail, $150.

Jade by Nikolai, Honolulu, HI; (808) 228-2732, fax (808) 377-3544,

Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications