Pearls: Tara & Sons Sees Demand Increase for Natural Pearls & More

Natural Selection

Natural pearls proved particularly strong sellers at last year’s Baselworld show, and a year later they’re still trending. This is according to New York City–based Tara & Sons, whose display window at February’s Centurion show in Scottsdale, Ariz., was ­practically overflowing with the rare gems.

The demand for natural pearls has been increasing during the past four years, explains Daven Sethi, vice president of operations and Tara’s natural pearl expert. “Our natural pearl business for 2012 was up 100 percent,” he says.

Conch pearls, the pale pink gems of the conch shell that are famous for their flamelike pattern, are a staple in Tara’s inventory, and clam pearls—milky white gems with unique flames of their own—recently joined the mix. The brand started collecting the esoteric clam pearls about two years ago and finally had a small presentation (just one necklace and a pair of earrings) to offer at Centurion.

Tara & Sons earrings in platinum with two conch and four clam pearls and 1.06 cts. t.w. diamonds; $54,000

“Our farmer has been collecting them for the past seven to eight years,” adds Tara’s CEO, Sonny Sethi. “The clam pearls have been on the market, but the Europeans have been collecting them.”

According to Tara, the rarest pieces have been great conversation starters. “We’ve offered them to a few of our stores who’ve sold our natural pearls in the past,” says Daven, who expects them—and a number of the brand’s new conch pieces—to sell at a show in Hong Kong or to go to an auction house. “The buyers are probably in Europe or Asia,” he says.

Tara currently features 15 conch pearl styles—including a double-strand necklace worth nearly $750,000—available for purchase. All conch and clam jewels come with certificates of authenticity from the Gemological Institute of America.

Pearl Price Check

During last year’s JCK Las Vegas, Ray Mastoloni quietly showed 20 pieces of a brand-new, high-end South Sea pearl and Tahitian ­jewelry collection called Signature. The partner of the Manhattan-based ­Mastoloni Pearls sensed a growing demand for a fine pearl product—one that was “not commercial,” he says—and responded by ­introducing a couple of subcollections within Signature called Ribbon, Black and White Ice, and a still-unnamed look featuring pavé diamonds. ­Mastoloni says it’s still too early to gauge the line’s success, but that styles are in no danger of collecting dust. “It’s one thing to sell pieces to a store, but we know jewelry sells through to the consumer,” he says. Early in 2013, Mastoloni debuted 15 new Signature pieces—many limited editions and one-offs—including additions to the Ribbon and Black and White Ice collections. The line retails from $5,000.

Saddle cocktail ring in 18k gold with 11 mm South Sea pearl and 0.60 ct. t.w. diamonds; $5,300; Mastoloni Pearls, NYC; 212-757-7278;
Mastoloni Pearls Triple Row bracelet with 7 mm–7.5 mm akoya pearls and an 18k gold clasp with 1.76 cts. t.w. diamonds; $12,000

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