The Great Akoya Debate

During the past year there have been several articles and letters to the editor of JCK magazine on the topic of akoya pearls. A recent article in another publication stated that an executive of a major store was shocked when he learned that the nacre thickness of akoyas purchased for his store was less than 0.5 mm. On its own, this "shocked" reaction is laughable. It's reminiscent of the scene in the film Casablanca when Claude Rains as Captain Renault announces the closing of Rick's Café with the immortal line, "I'm shocked-shocked to find there is gambling in this establishment," just before he's handed his winnings for the evening. The real issue in the akoya controversy isn't greedy Japanese producers. Nor is it wholesalers who provide retailers with product. The real issue is the demand made by the top management of large purchasers to "push suppliers to the wall" on price. The

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