Pearls were the star of this year’s September Jewellery show (2023).
As a pearl findings manufacturer from Israel, here is my experience and conclusions.
Before the Show
Even before the show, I could (and did) anticipate what was to come. The majority of my US customers told me they won’t be attending the show due to pearl prices that are too high at the moment.
Due to the fact that the United States is my primary market, I was concerned. While prices were high in the past, people still came in search of a solution or in any case to get what they required.
Even on set-up day (the day before the show even started, the conference hall was already filled with buyers who had gotten exhibition badges, mainly Chinese customers who were mainly interested in Tahitian pearls.
At The Event:
It was a crazy first day, of course. Throughout the hall, people were running around and crammed into the corridors.
Since everyone was running around to see the pearls for the first time, there was very little to do for me.
Despite this, I did not go home empty-handed.
On the second day, there was still a lot of activity in the hall, but it was less than on the first day. On this day, I began to see some action myself, and my customers, including many new customers, expressed to me that they were upset that pearl prices, especially Tahitian pearl prices, have more than doubled, tripled, and even four times!
One of my friends/customers, who is a Tahitian pearls farmer who also exhibited at the show, explained to me why:
- As I understand it, the Tahitian Government shut down some pearl farms in Tahiti, so a couple of islands didn’t have any crop so there are fewer Tahitian pearls. They may have just have had bad crops, I’m not sure, but the bottom line is that there were fewer goods, so prices increased.
- One Chinese superstar celebrity (the Chinese love their celebrities) has been wearing pearls non-stop for a while, especially Tahitian pearls and Keshi pearls, and suddenly even Keshi pearls went back in style (I wonder who paid her to do that?). It caused a Tahitian pearl frenzy in China, which boosted Tahitian pearl demand by hundreds of percent!
Together, these two factors caused a “tsunami wave” in Tahitian pearl prices.
From the Third Day Onwards
From the third day on, I had more and more clients and new clients visit my booth, most of whom were Chinese looking for new clasp ideas and looking to have a different look from their competitors that had “traditional” Chinese design pearl findings.
In the last three days, however, a lot of Tahitian pearl exhibitors were just walking around with their hands in their pockets, since they had sold almost all of their goods by the end of the first day. There are a few of them who kept some goods aside because they believe the prices will go even higher so they are saving them for later in the year closer to Christmas.
I made a lot of new contacts from the Far East and Europe during those last days. Despite my expectations before the show, the bottom line was not as bad as I had anticipated.
Things I Learned & Hopes for the Future:
- I believe this year will be OK for me since my clients still have (hopefully) some pearl stock that they can use up. I am however concerned about 2024. It is possible that my “western” clients will have fewer pearls next year, so they will need fewer pearl findings…
- Let’s hope some fashion leader in the States or the same guy in China who poured pearls on this star now markets Akoya pearls, South Sea pearls, Golden pearls, and Freshwater pearls, too.
- My hope is that the demand for Tahitian pearls will slow down since the market is currently saturated, and that the islands in Tahiti will continue to produce pearls so that the price can be lowered for those who wish to own them.
With fewer Tahitian pearls in the US, I’m curious if yellow gold findings will become more popular than white gold like they used to be 20 years ago.
- In contrast, anyone with Tahitian pearls is now going to be able to sell them for a much higher price, and that might be good news for me since it will be more cost effective to use gold rather than silver. Could white gold actually become more popular than yellow gold in the near future?
Whatever the case may be, the pearl market has been and continues to be extremely interesting.
And in the words of one of my customers/friends: “It’s going to be challenging, but it’s also an opportunity. I don’t know what the full opportunity entails yet, but a monumental shift like this means something new is emerging.”
I like his optimism – every crisis is also an opportunity!