Belpearl Auctions has grown rapidly since its first auction in 2013, successfully connecting independent producers of golden, black and white South Sea pearls to the global market place through its eponymous auctions in Hong Kong. Michael Hajjar, the company’s director of business development, shared his industry insights and business prospects.
Belpearl Pearl Farm in Russell Island, Myanmar
Could you tell us about the results of Belpearl's latest auction?
We concluded an auction in February, with total sales of approximately US$10.8 million. The event lasted eight days during which we showcased 804 South Sea pearls lots from producers from Myanmar, Indonesia and French Polynesia. The overall result was strong, with nearly 90 percent of lots sold.
Please share with us some of the company's greatest accomplishments.
In 2013, we were presented with a remarkable opportunity to organise an auction of golden South Sea pearls from Myanmar. It was the first event of its kind, effectively bringing Myanmar's pearls to the international market. The outstanding quality of Myanmar's pearls produced a nearly two-fold increase in revenue compared to that of domestic auctions. Its lasting effect was that buyers began to specifically ask for golden pearls from Myanmar from that point on.
We're very proud of this. Six years later, building on the success of that first event, we have grown our auction partners to include pearl farmers from French Polynesia, Indonesia, the Philippines and beyond.
What are the keys to your success?
A key to our success is conducting our auctions in a very clear and transparent manner. Since the outset, we've always provided a published sales price – something that not all auctioneers do. We have made it a point to publish the prices for each lot on our website for all to see. Furthermore, our policy has always been to represent farmers directly. We are the central link in the chain of custody between producers and buyers, and that allows us a unique claim to traceability, which is becoming increasingly important in the quest for responsible trading of gems.
Another key to success was developing a grading system that makes our pearl lots easily identifiable and understood. Working alongside our pearl farm partners, we have developed a basic grading catalogue and terminology and whenever possible, we use these terms in our auction catalogues. We are also planning to publicise this in our company e-newsletters.
What's next for Belpearl Auctions?
Currently, we are planning upcoming auctions in June and September. We're happy to report that we've received interest from new pearl farmers in French Polynesia and Myanmar who want to participate directly in the Hong Kong auction. These companies said they reached out to us based on our reputation for trust and reliability.
Over the last six years, Belpearl Auctions Ltd has expanded its presence in Hong Kong by effectively building connections between pearl farmers and global buyers.