Dishing Up Pearls in a Buyer’s Market

In the volatile international pearl market, conditions and prices change almost daily. For American retail jewelers, the market's turbulence generally means good values, and right now there are ample opportunities to offer new looks or stock up on best sellers as pearl producers struggle to keep prices from sinking any lower. Akoyas Overall production has dropped in the past 10 years. In Japan, production is down 50 percent, according to a report compiled by Andy Müller, president, Hinata Trading, Kobe, Japan, and presented to the European Gemmological Symposium in June. Industry experts blame the rising popularity of South Seas, Tahitians, and Chinese freshwater cultured pearls, as well as the increasing quality and value of the latter. In addition, the economic downturn has discouraged consumer purchases and restricted bank credit to producers. "Many Japa

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