By Li Jialin"How unique those pearl jewels are!" exclaimed Ms Gao while picking and choosing pearl jewels. In the trading hall of China Pearl (Treasure) City situated at Weitang Town, Xiangcheng District, Suzhou, Ms Gao, who came for the first time, was apparently attracted by the large varieties of jewelries like pearl necklaces, pearl ear nails, pearl pendants, pearl bracelets, pearl brooches, pearl rings. Having spent nearly two hours picking and choosing, she purchased seven or eight products like pearl necklaces, pearl ear nails, pears pendants, and pearl bracelets.
As several foreigners picked and chose carefully in front of the special counter of the Weitang Taihu Lake Pearl Artware Factory, Zhang Shengquan in his forties was giving an introduction in simple English. With over 20-year experiences in trading pearls, Zhang and his wife run two stores while managing a water area of over 1,000 mu where pearls are cultivated in Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui. His products consist of pearls, pearl artware, and pearl powder, and so on. With a stable number of clients from all over China and foreign countries like the USA, Japan, South Korea, and Great Britain, his annual sales volume amounts to several million RMB yuan.
Lv Linghong, who grew up in the WeitangTown, always has a smile on her face when making deals. In the trading hall of China Pearl (Treasure) City, she introduces jewelries in her hand patiently to guests, "Look! This kind of necklace with a single pearl looks elegant and unique, thus being popular among ladies. Certainly, what sells best is still pearl necklaces. In general, white, pink or purple pearl necklaces like these are crude; necklaces of other colors are possibly dyed." Now, Lv can get considerable incomes due to her hearty popularity and good business.
When seeing Zhu Hainiu and his wife who were engaged in processing pearl artware, they were busy processing pearl artware. To-and-fro customers kept gasping in admiration at their technical level: with brilliant Cubic Zirconia added, pearl necklaces suddenly become fashionable; pearls of all colors were strung together into necklaces of different lengths with 5 or 7 pearls, each of which looked so elegant! Zhu and his wife also had a very good business.
Greeting good opportunities for internationalization
Situated at the WeitangTown in the Xiangcheng District, Suzhou, ChinaPearl (Treasure) City has become well known far and near since its completion last year; and good luck has fallen in succession. First of all, the Pearl Cultural Festival was launched with grandeur; then, on the past February 26, the Pearl Commission under the League of Jewelry Dealers of Asia was officially founded at the WeitangTown while the Suzhou International Pearl Exhibition & Bidding (Auction) was held in the China Pearl (Treasure) City. At that moment, China Pearl (Treasure) City at WeitangTown became a hot topic in the international pearl market.
It is understood that although China produces over 95 percent of the world's total output of pearls with China's output of fresh water pearls accounting for 99 percent of the world's total output, no international pearl auction has been held in China. At the end of last September, Martin Coeroli, General Manager of French Polynesia's Pearl Industry Trade Association Perles de Tahiti known as a cosset of the international pearl industry, made a decision to move the international pearl auction mainly relying on Tahiti pearls to WeitangTown after coming to WeitangTown to review the local pearl industry.
On the venue of the pearl exhibition and bidding (auction), over 500 kg top-grade pearls of various categories were exhibited. To celebrate the jewelry expo, WeitangTown began making efforts to collect the largest fresh water pearl and the largest sea water pearl in the world from last September. Out of all pearls sent for the contest by 15 jewelry companies, 3 was given the title of "Top-grade Fresh Water Pearl" while 3 was given the title of "Top-gradeSea Water Pearl".
With the Asia Pearl Commission located at Weitang, Suzhou, a green road leading to internationalization has been opened for the pearl industry in WeitangTown.
Interaction between the market and the industry
In fact, there has witnessed a lot of setbacks along with the industrial development in the Weitang Town, China's land of fresh water pearls. As there has laid an interleaving network of clear water at the WeitangTown, raising mussels to cultivate pearls is a traditional industry for people in the WeitangTown. In 1965, the former Wuxian County Taihu Lake Aquatic Product Institute succeeded in cultivating artificial pearls and promoted the cultivation at a large scale in WeitangTown; since then, WeitangTown was reputed as "the birthplace of fresh water pearls". In 1984, the Hejiawan Pearl Market, which is the earliest pearl trading market in China, was built up and was developed into the China Pearl City in 1995. Jewelry merchants from foreign countries like India and Japan even come to Weitang to set up spots for purchasing pearls in a routine way.
When the China Pearl City was just constructed, people dealing with pearls could expect fortunes without doing anything. Due to the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, the international market suffered a disastrous decline and China Pearl City suddenly became far less crowded. However, the Shanxiahu Pearl Market in Zhuji, Zhejiang grew up suddenly and even engaged 20 enterprises dealing with pearls in WeitangTown moving to Zhuji.
In allusion to such problems as generally low added values for pearl products, behind-lagging pearl processing technologies, behind-lagging conception in designing pearl products, the small and dispersed corporate scale, the low level of industrial systematism, insufficient inputs on technology, people in Weitang Town launched a series of actions. Large-scale pearl dealers cooperated with professional institutions involved in the pearl technologies so as to integrate fold workmanship and improve the level of craftwork and manufacture. Products managed developed from a single variety of scattered pearls into multiple series of pearl decorations, pearl artware, and pearl healthcare products. Last year, the Municipal Government of Suzhou ranked the fresh water pearl industry as one of the industries to be supported; and WeitangTown grasped such an opportunity to transfer the China Pearl City to the PearlLake, which is located on he east of the town and has been newly treated.