Robert Wan: ‘Tahitian Pearl Auctions Show Upward Trend’

The 18th Robert Wan/Tahiti Perles Auction, held May 16-18 in Kobe, Japan, took advantage of the turnout among pearl dealers exhibiting at the eighth annual Reed Expo International Jewellery Kobe Show, May 13-15.

Robert Wan, CEO of Tahiti Perles Company in Papeete, Tahiti, says he chose May over June partly because of the Kobe Jewellery Fair, but also because many suppliers were running short of Tahitian pearls, particularly in large sizes.

Prices rebounding? Not according to The Guide, which had its pearl pricers scouring The JCK Show ~ Las Vegas for current prices. But according to Wan, the international auction price for Tahitian pearls began rebounding with the 26th Tahiti Poe Rava Nui Auction in October 2003. Prices reportedly continued to rebound in March 2004 at the 17th Robert Wan/Tahiti Perles Auction in Hong Kong, and then at the 27th Tahiti Poe Rava Nui Auction three weeks later. Wan’s Hong Kong auction reportedly sold more than 200,000 pearls, roughly 88% of the pearls offered. According to Wan, prices averaged 15.3% higher than reserve prices. At the 27th Poe Rava Nui Auction, Wan says, all 154 lots were sold and overbidding averaged 58%.

Wan feels that his successful auction results confirm that prices have stabilized for the Tahitian pearl. He also believes that buyers are more confident about their future sales of Tahitian pearls and Tahitian pearl jewelry. “Buyers are still very positive about Tahitian pearls,” writes Wan.

Kobe auction sales were reported at $7.5 million. Of the 204,441 Tahitian pearls put up for sale there, buyers purchased 179,852, roughly 88% of what was offered.

The Tahitian pearls sold at the Kobe auction had a total weight of approximately 417 kilograms, Wan reports. “That gave us an average price per gram of $18, which I think is a good price. Since my pearl prices are in U.S. dollars, a lower U.S. dollar may have given some buyers a bigger incentive to buy.”

Buyers rebounding, too. Wan was impressed with the turnout for the March Hong Kong auction. “There were 151 companies that came to the auction. More than 110 of them ended up becoming buyers. That’s the first time we’ve had more than 100 buyers,” he says.

Then came Kobe. More than 100 potential buyers came to Kobe, “and 73 of those buyers bought lots during the auction,” Wan says. Buyers reportedly came from London, the United States, Spain, Germany, and, of course, Japan and Tahiti.

Wan says he was encouraged by the current economic situation in Japan, which regained its customary No. 1 world ranking last year as the biggest market in terms of the value of loose Tahitian pearl exports.