Wan Predicts Black Pearl Recovery

December 2, 2003

Wan Predicts Black Pearl Recovery

Prices will rise in 2004 for cultured black pearls, due to greater demand and a tightening of supply, says Robert Wan, Tahiti's cultured black pearl supply leader. Demand will grow, he says, because buyer inventories are depleted after two years of slow buying activity.

At a Robert Wan Pearl Auction held Nov. 20-22 in Kobe, Japan, 81% of the Tahitian cultured black pearl lots sold, he reports, with prices firming at an average price-per-gram of $15. The Tahitian pearl industry has been suffering through an overproduction crisis, which Wan says is also being well addressed by the French Polynesian government.

"The overall production of loose Tahitian pearls should be around eight to nine tons [in 2003], or two to three tons less than 2002's 11 tons," said Wan in a prepared statement. "The lower production stems from stricter controls enforced by the government and the natural disappearance of small producers who have given up pearl producing in favor of returning to such traditional occupations in the outer islands as fishing." Wan says prices should go up because the fewer producers left will concentrate on continually improving the quality of the pearls.

The Kobe auction presented finished Tahitian cultured pearl necklaces for the first time, Wan says. "These were low-end priced necklaces, which sold well. They were circled pearls with good colors." This was the second auction Wan held in Kobe. The first was held in June. Wan confirmed previously announced plans to hold four auctions in 2004, in Kobe and Hong Kong. The auctions are scheduled for March, June, September and November, with the locations for each to be announced later.

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