Lots of Beads at the North Carolina Wholesale Gem Show-
I have already written Caitlin about this show and thought some others might be interested. My husband and I drove about 2+1/2 hours to Franklin, North Carolina. This is a beautiful part of the country. It's in the Appalachian mountains and the famous Blueridge Pkwy is nearby. I had no idea that until the late 1800's or so there were many mines in and around Franklin. They mined Rubies,Sapphires,Garnets and Moonstones in North Carolina. A lot of these mines are still open for tours and mining if an indiv. wants to mine for his own gems. In fact a gem quality ruby was mined by an indiv. in 1993. It was 1040 carats. In Franklin there are numerous shops that sell nothing but gemstones.. We drove to the Franklin for a wholesale gem show. I didn't expect a big show or a big crowd but I was impressed. The place was packed. It looked like the vendors were selling a lot..There were about 175 dealers. There was quite a price range for semi precious gem stone beads and pearls. There was even one vendor who sold loose diamonds. There weren't as many pearl dealers as there were gem stone bead dealers. In fact the selection of pearls was poor and over-priced,IMO. However I have to stipulate that my visit was a whirlwind tour. I only had about 3 hours in the show and that was not enough time to get an honest impression. It appeared to me that the focus was on semi-precious gem stones (with the exclusion of pearls). Citrine,quartz, garnet,peridot I happened upon a wholesale dealer who is based here in Atlanta. I was impressed with her and her merchandise. Her company's name is "New Century Wholesale,Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org 770-416-9788
Most of the dealers don't have web sites. I suppose they do most of their business thru trade shows.
As I said there was quite a variance in the prices and probably the quality.
There were 15mm shell pearls for $15.00.(16inches) good luster.Others sold for $25.00 at another vendor and they weren't any nicer..
-FW,8+1/2 peacock ringed pearls for $7.00. (poor quality)
-6mm button pearls,nice luster $4.00
There were some large pearls,nearly round for $90.00 a strand. I didn't have time to examine but they didn't look like $90.00 to me. The luster wasn't that great etc.
-large(12mm) ,of faceted rondells and balls,rutilated quartz,smoky,lemon $10- $12.00 each
I saw 7 or 8 small Tahitian gray pearls.(not pretty)
It's hard to say how good the prices were. I am sure there are websites that sell for the same or less. Then again, it's nice to see the merchandise in person before you buy. I have no idea about the quality of the colored gem stones. Several places had prices that were astronomical . Perhaps they had better quality. From a brochure I got the following websites. They were at the show. There was a lot of buying.
My dad was an amatuer rock hound and cut a few stones so we went to the NC Rock and Mineral Show often and also panned in the tourist attractions which I believe were salted even then. He had no interest in pearls unfortunately. I have some of his tools and gold and silver wire which I thought might pay for our gasoline to drive up there Guess I'll have to wait for another show. Do you think this might be a better way to pick up some "learning pearls" than eBay?
I don't think I would go up to Franklin, Taylor, unless it was tied into a vacation. Maybe Zeide or another forum expert can tell you more about how to learn about how to identify pearls. I took the GIA pearl course and it was a whopping amount of money. I don't think it was worth it. I also took the pearl grading class . It was a whopping amount of money too.It helped but IMO it wasn't worth the money. An expert could tell you what I learned in the pearl grading class in 15 minutes. I've learned more on this forum, a lot more.
I just want to point out that G&LW stands for Gem and Lapidary Wholesalers. I think these shows mainly meet beaders' needs. The pearls are going to be 90% beading quality, but there should be some nice ones- like the button pearls. And there should be some good quality near rounds at a few booths.
Pearltime told me under separate cover that are are two Evergreens. One from NYC and one from LA. The one from NYC seems to be more uptight than the one from LA, but Roy Chen of LA should have some sweet pearls near the center of his display.
My advice, ask where their best pearls are, when you get to a booth with pearls. There are literally tons of schlocky pearls, but there are a few nice ones hanging out with the commercial one.
And, by all means, post your experiences with individual companies and persons.
Hi Taylor once again! If you live near a large city such as Minneapolis or Orlando there should be a Merchandise Mart in the downtown area that carries pearls. Nearly every good size city has one. There is one in Atlanta called The America's Mart. It's huge. They carry everything from jewelry to Persian rugs to furniture. They have a good selection of pearls to examine.I think the prices are just as good as these shows and they will usually give you a 20-30% dicount if you spend over $500.00 or so. Some of the shows can steer you to a good supplier.
I am adding this to Karen?s G&LW review because I don?t have much more to say than that. It is a great show for beaders with all the gems, but not so great if you are looking for better pearls.
I asked Roy at EvergreenLA about the 9mm buttons and other better quality. He didn?t bring any. He told me to call the store in LA.
Majestic Pearls had some 10mm off -round FW with a great dye job. They were very pretty soft colors, more gray than black. BUT they wanted $100 per strand! I almost choked on the spot and told them I had paid $10 in Feb for some like that, in fact I had some on my glasses holder strand and showed him.. They just folded their arms and otherwise adopted defensive body language?..
See, the prices are already skyrocketing as the dyed colors improve and people clamor for the limited number 10mm+ available, even if off round! I still think that was too high though, so I m waiting until Feb for any more large off-round peacock dyed CFWPs!
The super low prices on large CFWCPs were a result of the large wave of bankruptcies in 2001-2004. As of 1 January 2000, the Chinese government had switched from a policy of subsidizing small family operations to simply granting operating loans.
Many pearl farmers did not immediately realize that they were supposed to pay back the money and in 2001 followed the first wave of bankruptcies. The Chinese government repossessed the farms and at first did not know what to do with them and just left them as they were until some time later.
CFWCP prices slumped in 2002 and more farms went belly up while the Chinese government finally got the idea to start harvesting pearls from some of the repossessed farms, auction them off, and assigning the land to other projects that were more likely to stay profitable.
Then came SARS and prices plunged yet some more with nobody to buy the pearls even at huge discounts. Yet more pearl farms went bankrupt and the Chinese government was still waiting out the market slump while the pearls in the untended, repossessed farms grew bigger and bigger. Then in early 2004, most of the pearls were harvested, the shells sold to industrial processors, yet more of the land sold to yet more developers and the pearls auctioned off to factories at ludicrous fractions of their value to produce. As a result even more farms went bankrupt.
However, this process has by now let to a drastic reduction in actual farming operations and the remaining viable farms have united in cooperatives that run their own factories and help their members in bridging cash flow problems, negotiate better prices, organize nucleation talent etc.. The result is better pearls and a whole lot less of them. It also makes highly educated sales, management, and technical staff available to more farms and that tends to raise prices. So your US$100.00 per strand for small-scale wholesale buyers is definitely no longer out of line.
Last edited by Zeide Erskine; 09-11-2006 at 02:36 AM.
This is an example of the the beads I got last year at the big gem show. I made this necklace for an old friend. The ones at the mini-show were a little less round and the color lighter.
If I were to make and sell a similar necklace, what do you think is a fair sale price direct from me to the customer?
You are talking about designer jewelry here and prices in this area tend to vary greatly. If you wanted to buy something like that in a boutique in Capitola or Pebble Beach shortly before Mother's Day, Valentine's Day or Christmas you would certainly see a price tag in the four figures (US$1199.99-1799.99). If you were to sell it at a booth during the Tucson Gem Show you probably won't find a buyer for more than US$200.00 right now and nobody knows what prices will be a few years hence.
The Chinese economic miracle has created a vast domestic market and Chinese women love pearls. In particular they love pink pearls of natural color. So, while the dyed pearls will still increase in value and become ever more desirable here, the natural-color pinks are really the ones to keep an eye out for especially in 9mm and up.
I have always sold at the lowest end possible. But even so, I think I need to rethink some of my prices. I have a similar piece out for $75 in a "low" end Sedona store (a tourist trap). He is asking around $200. (He tripled my price and has taken 25% off for some pieces, but not that one.)
I found the guy because he saw my stuff at a silent auction I had donated to for a Sedona friend's charity event and asked me to leave him some pieces. I was thinking pearls is not what I would fish for in Sedona, but whatever, he is selling it regularly.
A few years back hubby and moi went to visit a friend in New Jersey and while on a visit to Princeton and surrounding area I wore one of my "lowly beading thingies" while browsing through jewelry stores. In every single one of them (of about 8 or 9 I went to) some customers remarked on the necklace and wanted to buy it off my neck. The highest offer was US 2000.00. Below is the necklace that everybody wanted. I did not sell it because I cannot find the multi-color rondelles anymore.