Coffee Break

The Changes to the South Sea Pearl Market over the years

South Sea Pearls have been cultivated in large Pinctada Maxima oysters in the North of Queensland, Northern Territory and North West Australia since the 1960’s. The Paspaley family of Darwin hold sample harvests of their cultured south sea pearls early harvests in the 1950’s and onwards, and Aquarian Pearls founder David Norman’s father Boris Norman is credited with buying Australia’s first commercial south sea pearl harvest from Pearls Pty Ltd in 1959. These pearls found their way to Europe and America’s finest jewellery  retailers. In the 1960’s and 1970’s firms like Harry Winston, Tiffany and Co, Gianmaria Buccellati, Cartier and many more specialised in making south sea pearls an essential part of their inventory.

Within Australia the town of Broome has long been Australia’s port of Pearls and there have been since the 1980’s between 10 and 22 retail jewellers selling south sea pearls and mother of pearl products and polished shells.  Pearls really became part of the mainstream in the Australian market with designers like Tony White and Margot McKinney leading the charge as well as the major Pearl Cultivators, Paspaley, Kailis and Autore, developing their own in house brands. Aquarian Pearls has been supplying Australian South Sea Cultured Pearls to the trade since incorporating in 1986, and has developed its own jewellery brand for sale within Australia.

The Pearl harvests consist of perfect round shaped full moon like pearls perfect for pearl rings, earrings  and pearl strands , tear drops and oval shapes ideal for pendants and enhancers and earrings. Flat and full button shapes again ideal for rings and earrings and if crossed drilled interesting strands as well. Baroque or free form shapes also make great rings and earrings and strands. Finally circle pearls with concentric lines around them in round and drop and button shapes also make great single pendants or earrings or strands.

The Australian market fully came of age with the advent of internet sales and jewellers have been exporting finished pearl jewellery all over the world.

America has always been a prime market for all pearls as has Japan and China. It was Japanese knowhow that established the first pearl farms in Australia with their highly secret grafting techniques, and Japan has always been the market for 50 to 60 per cent of the worlds pearl harvests only recently being challenged by the ever growing appetite for fine gems within the China market. Other Asian countries particularly Taiwan and South Korea were always major buyers of Australian south sea pearls also. Luxury retailers throughout Europe have always stocked all varieties of pearl jewellery and Europe remains a huge market too for pearls as is  the middle east particularly Dubai.

About the author

Alice Instone-Brewer

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment