Chinese freshwater pearl prices seen rising further

Chinese freshwater pearl crop prices are expected to move up by a further 30 percent in the second half of 2011, freshwater pearl dealers in Hong Kong said.

Crop prices of Chinese freshwater pearls have increased continuously over the last two years. Prices today are reportedly 30 to 50 percent higher than in June 2010.

Lower Chinese freshwater pearl production, a result of fewer nucleations by pearl farmers in 2008 and 2009 in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, has undoubtedly contributed to the significant price rise. However, a more crucial factor, pearl suppliers pointed out, is the stronger demand for freshwater pearls in mainland China.

“An increasing number of jewellery shops are opening in the mainland, boosting demand for freshwater pearls,” said Tony Ngai, director of Eastern Pearl Co Ltd, a major Chinese freshwater pearl wholesaler in Hong Kong. “Some higher-end retailers in other industries also like to decorate their shops with pearls to enhance their image, and Chinese freshwater pearls are their favourites thanks to their competitive prices.”

Mr Ngai added that better-quality Chinese freshwater pearls are increasingly being used in corporate gifts in the mainland, leading to marked growth in demand for and prices of these pearls.

He also sees climbing demand for lower-quality Chinese freshwater pearls, given that a higher number of pearl suppliers in the Middle East and Nepal visit Zhuji, Zhejiang Province – a centre for Chinese freshwater pearl trading – to source lower-grade pearls.

Mid-range Chinese freshwater pearls move much more slowly than both higher-quality and lower-quality pearls.

Jewellery Net Asia (13 Jul 2011)