I was very excited to go to Asia for the first time, and especially excited since the trip involved being let loose in a convention center full of millions of gems! I had imagined what it would be like, but this is something that you can’t quite picture in your head; you have to experience it. My first day there, the climate was exquisite. Some people thought it was too hot and humid, but I love tropical weather.
Jeremy, Hisano and I headed over to the show bright and early (which for me is 10 am.) There were people there from all over the world waiting to get in. I had pre-registered for the event, and even then, I had to wait in line for a whole hour to finally get my official badge! I’ve waited less to get on rollercoasters. Anyway, it was worth it. I mention this so you get an idea of the scope of this show.
Once inside, it was on! So many pearls, so little time! We scoured the place over the course of 4 days in order to buy the best South Sea, Tahitian, Akoya and Freshwater pearls on the market. It was great for me to meet many of our suppliers in person, and get to know them better. I really admire that Jeremy and Hisano speak Japanese (and Jeremy even some Mandarin) as this truly makes a difference in the international marketplace. Everybody speaks English, of course, but speaking the other person’s native tongue helps establish a deeper connection.
A few things that I realized at the show: Ripple Freshwater pearls are all the rage! They are still pretty rare, but they are only getting bigger and better. Same goes for Soufflé pearls – some of the metallic colors were stunning! And Edison pearls (bead-nucleated Freshwaters) are getting bigger and better, too. We saw some that rivaled the most lustrous South Seas, at a whopping 17mm or so. We hardly could tell them apart! As the farms become able to produce these higher-quality, larger freshwater pearls, the prices go up as well. The label ‘Freshwater’ does not mean that a pearl will be at the lower end of the price spectrum anymore!
Also, I realized how rare Blue Akoyas are! I used to think they were ubiquitous…Not so! Among the hundreds of vendors, I only saw two that were carrying them, and even then, they did not have many and none were loose and undrilled. I made a mental note to hype up the Blue Akoyas when I returned, because they really are rare and I wanted our customers to know, based on my experience.
Hisano and I did a lot of the choosing and cherry-picking, and then Jeremy would come in and handle the negotiations. He knows exactly how much every item needs to be in order for us to be able to list them at the discounted prices we offer at Pearl Paradise. I learned a lot just from watching him, but there is no way I could ever do this by myself! He does have years of experience, but also, I got the sense that the jewelry world is still kind of a man’s world (ironically?)
Before we left, I made sure to check out the Vintage Jewelry pavilion, because, when else would I get a chance to see one-of-a-kind special heirlooms like those? They were amazing! The prices were prohibitive (to someone like me), but they were the real deal (with tattered jewelry boxes from the early 1900s to prove it.) I did get some design ideas by looking at these, though.
Now that I am back I am getting ready for our July 1st Semi-Annual Clearance Sale, which will feature many one-of-a-kind items, as well as select styles at up to 80% off! I won’t spoil the surprise, but, I will say that there are some Ripples, Edisons, Soufflés, and Blue Akoyas, as well as vintage-inspired items.