22 February 2019
As a pearl trading hub, Hong Kong hosts numerous pearl auctions every year. In November 2018 alone, a string of pearl auctions was held in the city, top-billed by the Rio Pearl auction. The sale offered 465 lots including South Sea pearls from Australia and Indonesia, golden South Sea pearls from Myanmar as well as Tahitian pearls. Of the 198,410 pearls placed on the auction block, 85 percent was sold, generating US$3.08 million.
Jonathan Cheng, director of Rio Pearl, said auctions held during the first half of 2018 fared better as the market has become sluggish since the conclusion of the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair. “About 120 companies took part in the November auction. The prices remained steady, generally speaking, but the price of medium- to low-end, low-lustre golden South Sea pearls had dropped. This may have been due to an increase in supply of Indonesian pearls in recent years,” disclosed Cheng.
Cheng said Rio Pearl will focus on providing medium- to high-end goods at future auctions. “Several auctions are held during the same period of time every year. To stay competitive, auction organisers have to make sure that their goods are of top quality, and buyers can get from them pearls that are not easily available elsewhere. Take Tahitian pearls, for example. We will only provide premium ones, including those measuring 8 to 10mm in diameter, which move the fastest at the moment. When it comes to the sorting of pearls, we always count on buyers’ feedback and adjust accordingly,” he explained.
Looking ahead, Cheng expects that the industry may still see some uncertainties until the second half of the year. “Hopefully, things will improve. At Rio Pearl, we will strive to provide a greater number of Australian South Sea pearls at 2019 auctions. We will also partner with more Indonesian and Tahitian pearl farms to further increase the diversity of our goods to make our auctions stand out even more,” he added.