Demand for natural pearls was strong at the Baselworld fair last week. Requests came largely from Middle Eastern buyers, who wanted pearls “from their own countries,” observed Claudie Plé, the Paris-based pearl specialist for Faerber Collection in Hall 3.0. The interest was so great, she says, that most of their natural pearl inventory sold out on the first day of the fair, and prices were 30 percent greater than last year.
“Natural pearls are antiques, you can’t fish for them anymore so the prices are sky high,” she explains.
At Fei, also in Hall 3.0, which displayed fine natural pearl bangles in gold and several graduated strands in its windows, there was a “mad rush” for natural pearls, says Sandeep Jain, a company principal. “Buyers weren’t blinking an eye at the cost,” he says.
Jain, too, has seen prices increase dramatically in the last two years because of product scarcity, particularly for better-quality goods. In Basel, the firm displayed one double and two triple strands of natural pearls, all with retail prices into the millions of dollars. A trio of karat gold and natural pearl bangles also commanded interest. “Half of the people who’ve walked into the booth were looking for natural pearls,” Jain told JCK on the second day of the show.
The Gemological Institute of America, which flew out a team of gemologists and staff to cover the fair, noted the natural pearl interest as well. In his post-show wrap-up, analyst Russell Shor noted the “noticeable presence [of natural pearls] at BaselWorld for the first time, and were in strong demand, particularly among Middle East buyers.”
Even after the fair ends, Plé expects buyer interest to remain strong considering that she’s seen collectors willing to travel to find natural pearls. “Buyers will come to Paris even if they don’t speak French,” notes Plé. “The world has become a lot smaller.”
Natural pearl strands from Fei at Baselworld all had retail price tags in the millions of dollars.