Riding the Pearl Market Roller Coaster

Pearls remain popular, thanks to the wide variety and moderate prices of Chinese freshwater cultured pearls (CFWCPs) as well as the fine mix of colors in South Sea pearls (SSPs) and Tahitian pearls. Larger sizes, better roundness, better qualities, new natural colors, new shapes, and attractive prices have given CFWCPs a big lead in sales, but uncertainty about the pearls' durability lingers. The CFWCP is almost all nacre, as are natural pearls, but mystery surrounding the methods of luster enhancement have created doubt about the nacre's wearability over the long haul. The popular interest in larger pearls is focused on SSPs and Tahitians. At the retail level, customers who have become familiar with white SSPs are now more prepared to take a risk with mixing colors, says Wesley Rutherford, managing director of Rutherford Pearls, Melbourne, Australia. There's growing interest in blac

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