Moving on in search of suppliers from Hong Kong to the Pearl City in mainland China with the hopes of a long-term business relationship. Thanks to the internet and to pearl-guide.com, I was able to visit Zhuji.
> Honqqiao Railway Station - 2 hours from Shanghai to Zhuji by fast train. You also have the option to take the normal train at Shanghai South Station but it takes about 3.5 hours for the trip and I think much older trains but a lot cheaper. There are extremely long lines. Make sure to come 2 hours before the planned departure or you will miss your train!
> Stay at Hailiang Garden Hotel - It's about 10 minutes drive to the pearl market. There is nothing to do around there. The hotels near the pearl market are not so good according to the people we met in the market. It's a 3-star "western-friendly" hotel, front desk personnel have a hard time speaking or understanding English (note to self: learn Mandarin!). There is internet via LAN in your room (only to find out a day later), and on the 3rd floor is a massage/spa place with the cheapest price ever (also only to find out a day later). The restaurant has snakes, eel, fish, mushroom, etc. Point point and they'll cook it. Picky eaters beware.
> Contact a huge company (rather than an agent who works for commission) and they will provide company car/chauffeur and an English speaking representative to tour you around (unfortunately it rained, so no farm tour, just the factory). I think we just got lucky. It was unexpected but they treated us like a VIP who is doing million-dollar business with them for years when in fact we have just met them for the first time and only bought a couple of thousands of dollars worth of pearls.
> Buy from medium to large size firms. The small booths in the middle have low quality and they buy from this medium to large size firms to dispose off their uber low quality goods and they target the tourists that come by bus once in a while.
> Shianxahu is a ghost town in the middle of nowhere with tons of empty/spacious buildings with construction everywhere and you will notice the abundance of BMW, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, Audi, Bentley, Lexus, etc. cars everywhere!
> I saw the Edison Pearls in person. It is quite big in size and the colors are much deeper (without being dyed), Coming from it's name, I bet it's from the manipulation of light to achieve the effect. Uhmm price are crazy expensive... I'll pass!
> I was not so shocked but the process of polishing, lighting, heating, etc of the pearls gives it the extra "umph". But then again, tons and tons of pearls but only a small percentage goes to be strung to be sold in the market.
Anyway, it was a good experience. Hopefully next time I can open my own shell in a pearl farm. Something to look forward to on the next trip. On to product development!