As the world economy fluctuates to agree or disagree with dire predictions, one thing is certain: pearl prices are on the rise. While this is welcome news for the world’s producers, beleaguered wholesalers and retailers are bracing for another shot at the bottom line.
As Chinese freshwater pearls are sold by weight, producers have spent much of the past few years focusing on sizable, more profitable production, largely ignoring the smaller range of pearl. This has lead to a sharp decline in the availability of smaller Chinese pearls, 7mm and below. Combining this shortage with the markedly increased labour costs and the labour-intensive job of processing small pearls is leading to drastically higher prices, as high as 200% greater according to a report in JNA.
The 49th Robert Wan Tahiti Perles Auction attracted a total of 94 buyers, 50 of whom purchased a total of 166 of the 468 available lots. While many lots remained unsold, the average selling price reached a remarkable €39 per momme, more than 35% higher than September 2009. Following the results of the auction, producer Robert Wan proclaimed that “the worst is behind us now, and the September 2010 auction will deliver better results.”
Not to be outdone, the Third Gerdau Pearl Auction (formerly known as The Paspaley Pearl Auctions) fetched US$7.91 million, up 36.14% compared with September 2009, with average per momme prices increasing a full 34%. Of the 100 attending buyers, 72 made successful bids, purchasing 211 lots comprising 110,028 pearls.
According to Mr Leung Sik Wah, director of Cogent Trading Co Ltd, average per pearl prices were up 15% year over year. He is now confident pearl farmers will have the ability to maintain their businesses.