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  1. #1
    First-graft Pearl Senior Member SpaceNeedle's Avatar
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    Default Differences in Tahitian pearls purchased from Tahiti and Hong Kong

    Between 2 retailers, one purchases their pearls from Tahiti and the other purchases theirs from Hong Kong. What are the differences, if any, should a buyer expect to see in the pearls from these two retailers? In general, I'm interested in the differences in pearl quality and pricing.
    Last edited by SpaceNeedle; 12-10-2007 at 07:12 PM.

  2. #2
    drea
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    Hi Space Needle,
    if a retailer is buying their pearls from Hong Kong, expect the prices to be significantly higher as most people in Hong Kong are all distributors (also remember that there is an additional cost with getting the pearls all the way from the French Polynesia to Hong Kong that you will also have to factor in). Any time one goes direct to the source you will greatly reduce the cost of the product regardless of what the product is. In my experience with anything related to pearls in Hong Kong, the prices are always considerably higher in Hong Kong rather than other parts of Asia.

    I have traveled and spent a fair amount of time in Hong Kong, Southern and Northern China as well as I've been to Tahiti. I myself would never buy any of my pearls from Hong Kong, but then again I am not a retailer I am a wholesaler. It really makes a difference as to how comfortable you are traveling in other parts of Asia or in this case going directly to the French Polynesia. Most retailers will add roughly a 100% mark up on their product, but with that you have to factor in what the original cost is which all comes down to how good they are at negotiations.

    I think quality and price of course would be better if you were to buy directly from the farms in Tahiti, but as we all know that is not an easy task, as to my understanding you have to have a special invitation to attend the annual Tahitian Pearl Auctions. I would suggest speaking to Josh (whom is on the site) who owns and runs a pearl farm in the French Polynesia and ask for his point of view in the matter if you are interested in purchasing Tahitian Pearls, perhaps he knows of a good wholesaler if you are looking. Best of luck!!
    Last edited by drea; 12-11-2007 at 02:29 AM.

  3. #3
    Pearl Maven Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Caitlin's Avatar
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    Do Tahitians only come from Tahiti? Does French Polynesia sell black pearls and call them Tahitians?
    Caitlin

    How to hand-knot pearls without a tool

    My avatar is a Sea of Cortez mabe pearl. One of a pair of Mexican handmade earrings.

  4. #4
    First-graft Pearl Senior Member SpaceNeedle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caitlin Williams
    Do Tahitians only come from Tahiti? Does French Polynesia sell black pearls and call them Tahitians?
    I changed the title to say Tahitian Pearls instead of Tahitians but the thread title still does not get updated. I thought it was a caching problem with my browser.

    Caitlin - Could you please use your magic and get the title updated?
    Last edited by SpaceNeedle; 12-10-2007 at 10:09 PM.

  5. #5
    Pearl Maven Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Caitlin's Avatar
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    Hi Space needle---
    I think your title is fine. what would you like it to say? I can do that.
    Last edited by Caitlin; 12-10-2007 at 10:36 PM.
    Caitlin

    How to hand-knot pearls without a tool

    My avatar is a Sea of Cortez mabe pearl. One of a pair of Mexican handmade earrings.

  6. #6
    Third-graft Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Josh's Avatar
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    Hi Spaceneedle,
    Hong Kong does not always produce lower prices. It's unknown how but there are pearls that get sold there that could not possibly have paid the official export tax.
    As a farmer, it's important to me that I sell pearls I am proud of and that I feel represent what I'm doing. In the pearl game you are always going to find cheaper if you look hard enough but I forever hope that a quality product, produced in a thoughtful way will be about more than just money.
    In regards to the auction in Tahiti, it was not my understanding that it was invite only. Anyone on this board in the trade who would like to attend the next auction in March, please PM me and I'll see what I can do to help. I'll have pearls in that auction and I think I can speak for my fellow farmers when I say that the more buyers, the better. I may get in trouble for sticking my neck out this way but I don't mind. Done it before and I'll do it again.
    Josh Humbert
    Pearl farmer and Tahitian pearl farming consultant.
    www.kamokapearls.com
    FB: http://www.facebook.com/Kamokapearls
    @KamokaJosh

  7. #7
    First-graft Pearl Senior Member SpaceNeedle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caitlin Williams
    Hi Space needle---
    I think your title is fine. what would you like it to say? I can do that.
    Catilin - If the title is OK, please leave it the way it is. English is my second language and I try hard to communicate as clearly as possible.

    Josh - I totally agreed with you regarding the quality and how the pearls are produced... which are more important than just the final price of the pearls. But, I have to admit that sometimes (especially when having a tight budget), pricing tends to move up my priority list and I am working on that

    I recently was approached by another online seller. They purchased their latest 1400 pearls from Hong Kong. I was just surprised to hear that since most of the online sellers I know purchase their pearls from Tahiti.
    Last edited by SpaceNeedle; 12-11-2007 at 02:23 PM.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    The auctions are almost always ?invite only?. At least the serious ones are. The more general, public-like auctions (like the auction in Suzhou last year) are useless to large buyers. The lots are too small and the bidding too heavy. South Sea pearl auctions are the same. They are always invite only, and if you do not win a bid it is likely you will not be invited to the next auction.

    There is nothing wrong with buying Tahitian pearls in Hong Kong. Most buyers, as a matter of fact, buy Tahitian pearls from Hong Kong companies or Japanese companies. Most of the time it is much easier than buying in FP.

    ? The ?asking? prices in FP are often much higher than the prices in HK or Japan. This is because the Asian buyers have purchased enormous lots and separated them, of course.
    ? Exporting pearls from French Polynesia is tremendously difficult.
    ? The lot separation is typically better in Asia. Lots are separated by single grade and single mm size. This is rare in Tahiti.
    ? The processing (if the buyer is purchasing strands instead of loose) is always better in Asia.

    With the asking prices being the same or less expensive, and the fact that it is much easier to do business with the Asian suppliers, it is clear why more buyers buy from HK and Japan. I would assume that the large majority of wholesalers and direct-buying retailers buy this way. I think the GIE is trying to change this with auctions like the November auction, but it is going to take time.

    I have purchased both in Asia (Japan and Hong Kong) and French Polynesia. Two years it made sense to us to purchase nearly all of our Tahitians in Asia. We now focus more on FP because of the volume we now purchase ? it makes more sense for us to do our own separation. But for most buyers, especially those who plan to make small purchases, the only additional value of purchasing direct from FP is intrinsic.

  9. #9
    First-graft Pearl Senior Member SpaceNeedle's Avatar
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    Jeremy - Do you have any comments on the differences in terms of the quality, especially the thickness of the nacre?

  10. #10
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    I have a Tahitian in my desk that I drilled for an invisible clasp setting but after drilling the hole I stopped and decided to keep the pearl. The nacre was between 3 and 4 mm. It came from a lot in Hong Kong. The pearl is impossibly rare, however, as it basically means that the pearl went through the equivalent of 2 growth cycles - the farmer screwed up.

    No, there is no difference in quality when dealing in loose pearls. Sometimes there can be a difference in the strands. This is because many companies in Asia will process the pearls with heat, color, or coating treatments. These processes are not routinely disclosed either. The buyers have to know what to look for.

  11. #11
    Slraep
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    Quote Originally Posted by jshepherd


    The ‘asking’ prices in FP are often much higher than the prices in HK or Japan. This is because the Asian buyers have purchased enormous lots and separated them, of course.
    ?

    I agree. In the last year of buying Tahitians, this is what I have found to be true too.

    Slraep

  12. #12
    Third-graft Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Josh's Avatar
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    Hi Jeremy, in our harvests we get freak pearls that grow twice as fast as the others. In the pearl you drilled for your invisible clasp I doubt the farmer who produced the pearl fumbled it. These freaks account for probably around .01% but they are consistent and every harvest will have them.
    Josh Humbert
    Pearl farmer and Tahitian pearl farming consultant.
    www.kamokapearls.com
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    @KamokaJosh

  13. #13
    Pearl Knotting & Wire Expert Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert knotty panda's Avatar
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    Re: Tahitian quality. Is it possible for the bead to show, not at the drill hole, but in the pearl in a Tahitian? Isn't that something the government would reject?
    Pretty Panda pic by nlerner on her U.S. excursion last year, San Diego Zoo.[/SIZE][/SIZE]

  14. #14
    Third-graft Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Josh's Avatar
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    For years I have been hearing people around me say things like, "see? Right there. That's the nucleus," while pointing to a dead spot on the pearl. I have been looking closely at them for over 15 years and have yet to see a nucleus on a pearl with thick nacre.

    On the other hand, light colored pearls that grow poorly will often show the rings on a nucleus though. These are always destroyed by the gov. When you export your pearls there is a preliminary verification with the naked eye before they get x-rayed. Crumby pearls like white ones with the nuc showing get yanked at this stage.
    Josh Humbert
    Pearl farmer and Tahitian pearl farming consultant.
    www.kamokapearls.com
    FB: http://www.facebook.com/Kamokapearls
    @KamokaJosh

  15. #15
    First-graft Pearl Senior Member SpaceNeedle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh
    On the other hand, light colored pearls that grow poorly will often show the rings on a nucleus though.
    Does anybody have a picture that shows "rings on a nucleus"? I am very curious to see. Thank you