By Bernardette Sto. Domingo •
30 December 2019
Japanese pearl exporters are seeing strong interest in commercial-grade pearls, particularly from China.
JPEA Chairman Yoshihiro Shimizu
The Japan Pearl Exporters' Association (JPEA) said demand for commercial-grade pearls remains stable, particularly from the Chinese market, amid global economic challenges.
Customers however continue to spend cautiously, JPEA Chairman Yoshihiro Shimizu said in an interview.
“A lot of factors are dampening the mood of Chinese buyers. They continue to buy pearls but in smaller quantities,” noted Shimizu. “They used to purchase a huge range of products – from top to bottom. Now, commercial-range products move the fastest.”
Some customers still invest in high-quality pearls, added the JPEA official, citing robust buying activity for either price-point items or top-grade expensive pearls.
South Sea pearls measuring 9mm to 11mm in diameter are highly favoured in the market while Japanese Akoya pearls continue to attract buyers amid a gradual drop in prices. Demand for nice-quality 7mm to 8mm Akoya pearls has meanwhile softened, revealed Shimizu.
Overall prices are generally stable but any price movement is hinged upon further developments in China's economy. The JPEA official said a softening of prices may be expected in the future.
“Prices will remain largely unchanged for products that are enjoying stable demand but we anticipate price adjustments for yellowish, spotty pearls, or those with weak demand,” remarked Shimizu.
For Tahitian pearls, buyers are gravitating towards smaller-sized products, with pearls measuring 8mm in diameter flooding the market. High-quality Tahitian pearls, especially those sized 12mm and up, have become quite scarce.
What is in demand in the market now are commercial products of decent quality but smaller in size.
Bulk of Japan's pearl business comes from the Chinese market, which comprises 70 to 80 percent of buyers. Japanese pearl dealers are also seeing a strong following from Asia, particularly from Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines.
The US, European and Japanese markets remain subdued, according to Shimizu.
“We don't expect these markets to recover soon. Customers' lifestyles have totally changed over the years and instead of buying jewellery, they spend money on traveling, housing or fine food,” he continued.
Japanese pearl traders are now setting their sights on Asia, with various marketing initiatives aimed at further promoting the allure of Japanese pearls among Asian buyers.