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Articles from PEARL JEWELLERY (300 Articles), PEARLS - LOOSE FRESHWATER (35 Articles)

Kagi
Kagi
 










Say goodbye to grandma’s pearls

Pearl jewellery is ditching its old-fashioned image and adopting a revamped persona. Jeff Salton discovers reasons for the shift.
Ikecho
Ikecho
Kagi
Kagi
Pearl Perfection
Pearl Perfection

Pearls appear to be shaking off ties to a bygone era as an increasing number of designers are daring to be different with the gems.

Additional and improved fresh water pearl shapes, greater availability to higher quality pearls and lower market prices have prompted designers to break out and create pearl jewellery that appeals to a much wider demographic.

Now, more than ever, jewellers have an opportunity to capitalise on the raft of retail opportunities pearls can bring, whether they be freshwater, Akoya, South Sea, Tahitian, Australian, black, white, gold, pink, metallic … the list goes on.

"The pearl is truly the queen of gems", says jewellery supplier Cashelle’s Arthur Pike. He says cultured pearls have remained popular for a long time, reflecting that royalty, film stars and fashion leaders have worn them.

“Over the decades, pearls have been in and out of favour with the young, who are always looking for something different,” says Pike.

Kat Gee, of New Zealand-based Kagi, says her company is paving the way for making pearls contemporary and current. She says that pearls are one of her company’s core design elements and have been a bestseller for many seasons.
 

“Pearls are just one of the gemstones we use in our creative palette and we treat them in a way that is both modern yet timeless,” she adds enthusiastically.

“We use freshwater pearls in necklaces and bracelets due to their affordable price points – women love being able to afford real pearls! We then use mother of pearl/shell pearl in our pendants to give a pearlised effect and hit those hot prices.”

Pearl Perfection’s founder and owner, Nerida Harris, says her company also works with freshwater pearls and uses some of the world’s best pearl growers to produce a commercial range of finished pearl jewellery.

“We do some amazing work with the new nucleated freshwater pearls – jewellers really do need to get up to speed with the elegance and sophistication of some of the ‘newer’ freshwater pearls, which can be up to 20-21mm, with amazing metallic lustre and gorgeous natural colours.”

She believes pearls can form elegant, affordable and unique pieces of jewellery.

“Newer designs allow women to wear pearls every day,” says managing director of Aquarian Pearls, David Norman, who sells South Sea pearl jewellery. He grew up in the pearl industry; his father bought the first pearl crop in Australia in 1959 and went on to own a pearl farm on Thursday Island.

Norman spent 20 years working for pearl suppliers Kailis and later Paspaley. He launched Aquarian Pearls in 2007 as a supplier of Tahitian, Australian and Philippines South Sea pearls.

He says traditional South Sea pearl jewellery consisted of necklaces and pairs of earrings, but over the years designers have created many different styles and even men have started wearing single pearl necklaces and cufflinks.

Erica Madsen started Ikecho Pearls as a supplier-only company in 1999. With more than 13 years’ experience and a growing range of pearl jewellery she admits to knowing a lot about the South Sea, Tahitian, akoya, mabe and Chinese freshwater pearls her company sells.


Madsen says gone are days where pearls were thought to be old-fashioned. “We’ve got lots of funky pieces that we’re now introducing. We’re using leather and different beads that appeal to younger people.”

She says freshwater pearls are popular at present because of their attractive price points.

A retail perspective
While the suppliers have their opinions about what consumers want, at the coal face is managing director of Percy Marks Fine Gems, Cameron Marks. His great grandfather Percy founded the company in 1899.

“Pearl retailing is about knowing your product and being honest and open about what [you’re selling],” says Marks, who left school for Japan to study the pearl industry before working in his grandfather’s store. He was there for 10 years before he was allowed to “sell anything”.

Marks believes a lot of retailers today are selling lower-grade pearls that, while they might look good initially, are not long-lasting. Some retailers are even passing off poorer quality Chinese or Japanese pearls as Australian, which traditionally are much higher quality.

“A B-grade pearl will never become an A-grade pearl,” Marks says, “no matter how you treat it.” He emphasises the store’s reputation for selling high quality pearls by stating: “I would always buy a $1,000 pearl over a $500 one because the cheaper pearl won’t last.”

Healthy Demand
For this reason, the store doesn’t sell treated pearls. Instead, Percy Marks’ customers generate a healthy demand for Australian akoya pearls from Broken Bay.


When buyers find cheap pearls, often while overseas, there is a reason, Marks says. “When sourcing pearls, you get what you pay for.”
Pike adds: “Recently, we saw a surge in the popularity of coloured freshwater pearls, in necklets, bracelets and jewellery; however, this trend has now reverted back to predominantly white and black pearls."

Norman believes Italian and Parisian fashion houses have incorporated jewellery into their latest offerings and Hollywood has helped to increase demand for high-end jewellery, which often comprises pearls.

He says fashion labels, such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Tiffany, Cartier and popstars like Rihanna have helped shift the image of pearl jewellery away from something associated with elderly women to a jewellery range far more accessible to a wider demographic.

Madsen agrees, saying that by incorporating the latest fashion colours from Europe into the company’s designs, Ikecho is helping to influence consumers’ jewellery-buying decisions.

Norman adds that celebrities as well as brands influence pearl sales.

“With Oprah Winfrey, Hilary Clinton and Scarlet Johansson being seen frequently in pearls, young people think it’s normal to be wearing pearls.” Norman says even Princess Diana, who struck a chord with young people, was constantly photographed wearing pearls.

Harris suggests jewellers need to familiarise themselves with the broad range of quality pearls that are available, which will help to educate their customers. 

“Jewellers need to look beyond what has always been available. If they don’t stock some of the great finished pieces offered by some suppliers, and just opt for the ‘traditional’, it simply perpetuates the ‘grandma’s pearls’ image.


As a retailer, Marks adds a lack of education about pearl care was still prevalent and warned other retailers to inform their customers that pearls “go off” over time. He says he has had necklaces brought into the store that are 20 years old and the customers complain about how bad the pearls look.

He explains to consumers, often while removing years of built-up make-up, dirt and detergents that pearls have to be handled with extra care.

“Once the bead is exposed on a cultured pearl, it can’t be repaired,” he says.

Like Harris and Marks, Madsen also believes the jewellery industry can do more to help educate consumers about pearls, and agrees that retail staff need to know more about pearls themselves.

“Retail staff still need to tell their customers about how to care for pearls, so we offer training for retail stores where we talk to staff about the differences in pearl quality, how to sell pearls and how to care for them,” she says.

“People are very open to our training, and I think if we were able to do more, it would benefit the industry.”

The future for pearls
The time is right for designers, both young and old, to again turn to using pearls in their designs, suggests Pike.

“The market is crying out for more innovative pieces. There is such a variety of shapes and colours available, including round, rice, drop, button and coin shapes, with colours of white, black, peach, plum, grey, green and many more, to create new pieces of precious and fashion jewellery.”

Pike is experimenting with various accents for Cashelle’s pearl necklets and bracelets. “The addition of 14-carat rolled gold balls in yellow and rose as well as sterling silver, make them very attractive,” Pike says.

“We are working mainly with freshwater pearls as they give us the greatest variety of shapes and colours. Pearls have become more versatile, says Harris. “We take the view that pearls can be desirable at every price point, so our more interesting pieces come in everything from leather settings through to magnificent multi-strand bracelets with individually-made gold beads and findings,” he says.

Marks, too, has noted a fashion shift in pearl jewellery from necklaces comprising a string of pearls to a single pearl, and pearl and leather combinations. Though still popular are necklaces and matching earrings.


Norman predicts an increase in sales of bigger, rarer, cleaner pearls and long necklaces, double length ropes, and more adventurous designs. He says drop shapes, baroque shapes and circles will increase in popularity in white, black and gold coloured pearls.

“Black and white pearls are very good value because they are priced in Yen. The Australian dollar usually buys around 80 yen but presently buys around 98 yen. So pearls are fantastic value in Australia.”

Finally …
“There is nothing more beautiful than a lustrous pearl set with diamonds and precious stones,” says Arthur Pike, while Kat Gee confesses: “Pearls are actually age-defying, they give wearers a luminous shine and a youthful glow. They are timeless, modern, contemporary, classic – you can make pearls whatever you want them to be and wear them for any occasion.”

So, if you want increase pearl jewellery sales, educate yourself and your sales force, think outside the square, present pearls well in your store and, above all, start thinking that every consumer who enters your store is a possible pearl jewellery buyer.

 

Supplied by Percy Marks
Supplied by Percy Marks

Pearls appear to be shaking off ties to a bygone era as an increasing number of designers are daring to be different with the gems.

Additional and improved fresh water pearl shapes, greater availability to higher quality pearls and lower market prices have prompted designers to break out and create pearl jewellery that appeals to a much wider demographic.

Now, more than ever, jewellers have an opportunity to capitalise on the raft of retail opportunities pearls can bring, whether they be freshwater, Akoya, South Sea, Tahitian, Australian, black, white, gold, pink, metallic … the list goes on.

"The pearl is truly the queen of gems", says jewellery supplier Cashelle’s Arthur Pike. He says cultured pearls have remained popular for a long time, reflecting that royalty, film stars and fashion leaders have worn them.

“Over the decades, pearls have been in and out of favour with the young, who are always looking for something different,” says Pike.

Kat Gee, of New Zealand-based Kagi, says her company is paving the way for making pearls contemporary and current. She says that pearls are one of her company’s core design elements and have been a bestseller for many seasons.
 

“Pearls are just one of the gemstones we use in our creative palette and we treat them in a way that is both modern yet timeless,” she adds enthusiastically.

“We use freshwater pearls in necklaces and bracelets due to their affordable price points – women love being able to afford real pearls! We then use mother of pearl/shell pearl in our pendants to give a pearlised effect and hit those hot prices.”

Pearl Perfection’s founder and owner, Nerida Harris, says her company also works with freshwater pearls and uses some of the world’s best pearl growers to produce a commercial range of finished pearl jewellery.

“We do some amazing work with the new nucleated freshwater pearls – jewellers really do need to get up to speed with the elegance and sophistication of some of the ‘newer’ freshwater pearls, which can be up to 20-21mm, with amazing metallic lustre and gorgeous natural colours.”

She believes pearls can form elegant, affordable and unique pieces of jewellery.

“Newer designs allow women to wear pearls every day,” says managing director of Aquarian Pearls, David Norman, who sells South Sea pearl jewellery. He grew up in the pearl industry; his father bought the first pearl crop in Australia in 1959 and went on to own a pearl farm on Thursday Island.

Norman spent 20 years working for pearl suppliers Kailis and later Paspaley. He launched Aquarian Pearls in 2007 as a supplier of Tahitian, Australian and Philippines South Sea pearls.

He says traditional South Sea pearl jewellery consisted of necklaces and pairs of earrings, but over the years designers have created many different styles and even men have started wearing single pearl necklaces and cufflinks.

Erica Madsen started Ikecho Pearls as a supplier-only company in 1999. With more than 13 years’ experience and a growing range of pearl jewellery she admits to knowing a lot about the South Sea, Tahitian, akoya, mabe and Chinese freshwater pearls her company sells.


Madsen says gone are days where pearls were thought to be old-fashioned. “We’ve got lots of funky pieces that we’re now introducing. We’re using leather and different beads that appeal to younger people.”

She says freshwater pearls are popular at present because of their attractive price points.

A retail perspective
While the suppliers have their opinions about what consumers want, at the coal face is managing director of Percy Marks Fine Gems, Cameron Marks. His great grandfather Percy founded the company in 1899.

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Sunday, 08 December, 2019 06:20am
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