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Tahitian pearl price-points

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  • Tahitian pearl price-points


    I've been comparing pearls online to pearls in some of my local jewelry stores and I'm seeing some inconsistencies. For example, it seems that online I can get a 10-11mm pearl with top ratings for around $150/pearl. At the stores, they are claiming they don't even buy them for that price and then are selling them for more around $450/pearl.

    Any advice?

  • #2
    Welcome DdwightSchrute,

    Just be careful which online sellers you go to i.e. in my opinion and others it would be very foolish to buy Tahitian pearls from China. Really goes without saying but better be safe.
    Others will tell you that eBay is dangerous to buy from and it can be but I am an eBay seller and consider myself very honest. I don't have a lot of Tahitian or experience with them. Just the ones I can buy for a reasonable price.

    There are many online shops you can trust and if you check us out here and go into shops and do a lot of research you will start to get the feeling and be able to spot those you can trust. Don't rush in. Look around.

    There are several Tahitian dedicated sellers here that list on this forum. Look up Tahitians and see who is helping and answering questions for those that need help from a pearl to a necklace.

    Many jewellers know far, far less than we do about pearls, Tahitians included. They would sell you dyed black or peacock coloured freshwater pearls thinking they were Tahitians. If you go into a jeweller who does really know his stuff then you will have to pay the $450 a pearl instead of what is charged by sellers here. Many of the sellers here are the pearl farmers and big buyers of tahitians and they know a lot more than any jeweller in the shops you have visited.

    Most of our newbies after a couple of months know more than many jewellers and their staff.

    I am positive you will get many answers to your question and loads of help and advice. So keep reading and researching until they log in.

    Dawn - Bodecia
    Natural pearl collector and all round pearl lover


    • #3
      Hi Dwight,

      If you are looking at pearls from the online sellers that post here, you can be confident of the quality you are getting. Because the pearls pass through fewer hands compared to retail, and you are not paying for the overhead of a storefront, and pearls are often bought in greater volume at lower cost, you can save big time and still buy top quality Tahitian pearls.

      You are welcome to ask about any of the online stores you are considering purchasing from. Are you finding a large selection to choose from at your retail stores?





      • #4
        There's not a huge selection in the store itself, but they say they have a "pearl guy". It's weird because I've used this store for sapphires and they are very reasonably priced, but for pearls, not so much. The online stores I was looking at were: PearlParadise.com and PearlsofJoy.com


        • #5
          Hi Dwight. I buy and sell Tahitian pearls, and I can tell you that the statement the jeweler made is false. Remember they are adding all their overhead prices into the jewelry, and traditionally mark up through retail stores is 200 - 300%. If they don't buy in large lots, than their cost is higher. If they don't know where to go to get good pearls for a reasonable price, their price is higher. Also, are you talking about loose pearls? These days the metal prices are often driving the price of finished pieces, instead of the pearl price. "Vetting" an online dealer is a great idea. Also, if you don't actually see what you are looking for on sites, but like the overall look - Private message them (all communication should be done that way) and see what they have in stock that hasn't made their site. A lot of us do custom work, will look for pearls etc. for a client. And remember, Tahitian pearls are addictive, so be careful out there!


          ?All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster's autobiography? Frederico Fellini
          Momi means pearl in Hawaiian!


          • #6
            A lot of jewelry stores depend on dealers who visit their stores with merchandise, or send them special-orders. That's why they said they have a "pearl guy". As long as they can sell it after adding their markup, they're happy. That's how they are able to do business with high overhead. It works well for most of their customers and keeps people in jobs.


            • #7
              Awesome, that sounds good to me. I think I'm definitely going to go through someone online once I find what I'm looking for. Thanks everyone!


              • #8
                Of course, for the person who's willing to do the work of evaluating and purchasing online, extra work = more pearls for the money.


                • #9
                  What the jewelers told you may actually be true.

                  A jewelry store has no economy of scale when purchasing pearls, Tahitian or otherwise. There are several different ways people in the industry purchase. They may buy on memo or consignment, or they may purchase the pearls outright. A jewelry store would buy their merchandise "by selection." This is the most expensive way to buy pearls, even if you are buying direct from a producer or a processor. But it's completely necessary for an operation that doesn't have the ability to move a massive amount of inventory.

                  When a larger buyer selects pearls, the pearls are purchased in lots - without selection. They can be graded lots or mixed lots. To give you an idea of the difference in cost, a full bag of Tahitian pearls that are graded (all the same grade) and not mixed in color could be $50 per pearl. If a buyer wants to buy "by selection," the price could easily be $100 to $150 per pearl. But in order to buy the lot, the buyer has to be able to move 100+ pearls of the same size, grade and relative color.

                  The next way to purchase is by mixed lot. A mixed lot can be mixed size, mixed quality, mixed color, or a combination of all. Mixed lots are the least expensive way to purchase Tahitians, but they are also the most difficult to work with. Well, the mixed size isn't that difficult, but the others are. We most often buy completely mixed lots that would range from A to C. We've purchased two so far this year - one lot in 8-10 mm and another in 11 up. Everything A/B and below goes into strands and everything A or top gem stays out for earrings, pendants, loose pearls and gem strands when needed. The 8-10 mm lot yielded about 300 strands, while the 11 up lot netted just over a 100. Our demands for A grade is higher than what we were able to pull from the mixed lots, so in February we purchased a mixed-size lot of 4000 8-10 mm, medium dark, A grade rounds. Next week we are doing the same thing for an 11 to 14 mm round lot.

                  What I'm getting at is that the jeweler may very well be paying $200+ for a single 10-11 mm pearl. It might not even be a top quality pearl. With Tahitians you've got light, medium light, medium dark and dark, followed by mixed color, separated green color, "special" colors and peacock. Each is more expensive as singles or as lots as your progress.
                  Jeremy Shepherd
                  President and Founder
                  PearlParadise.com, Inc.
                  The PearlParadise.com YouTube Channel
                  PearlParadise.com on Flickr
                  PearlParadise.com on Facebook
                  Some of My Favorite Pearly Finds on Instagram


                  • #10
                    Thanks for that summary, Jeremy! It takes some of the mystery out of how you achieve the prices you do. And the quality.

                    It also helps explain why the Kamoka pearls cost a bit more. They are a small outfit and they use methods that go to sustainability. They would have a harder time making top dollar if they just threw their pearls in with the rest of the lots from Tahiti.

                    While I think every Tahitian lover should have a great buy for the money; it is also a good thing to have at least one strand that is a great buy for sustainability.

                    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.


                    • #11
                      Then you add on drilling - not all jewelers have that capacity, and I've been to jeweler that charge $25. and up just to drill because they are jobbing them out. And prices JUMP on Tahitians when you move to the true 11mm and beyond size. There are so many variables. In Hawaii I saw so many pearl specialty stores that were filled with Tahitians that made me want to go in and offer them my services as a pearl finder, and they were much bigger-time than I'll ever be. Sigh.


                      ?All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster's autobiography? Frederico Fellini
                      Momi means pearl in Hawaiian!


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by waimeamomi View Post
                        And remember, Tahitian pearls are addictive, so be careful out there!
                        Oh girl - if that ain't the truth......... just bought three more in the last few weeks..... "there's always a prettier pearl" is my new "grass is greener"!

                        I sympathise with you "Dwight" - at first I was very concerned with "spending too much money" (which of course is important when you don't have a lot and you're talking hundreds of dollars). After a while I realized that to some extent, it is subjective (within reason of course). Meaning, pearls can be worth what people are willing to pay for them sometimes. I just bought a big ugly Tahitian pearl off eBay. I'm sure I paid more than it was worth but it was HUGE and rather unusual so....... I wasn't that concerned with what it was "worth" as much as I was with how much I was willing to spend (if that makes sense?) Stick with the vendors mentioned on here and you will be fine..........

                        - Jodie -
                        "I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string."
                        - Lucy Maude Montgomery -


                        • #13
                          Your best plan might be to decide exactly what sort of tahitian you want. I had a regular customer who had set her heart on a strand of perfectly peacock peacocks. I promised her some from Hong Kong and in the end I bought a small lot after going round half the pearl section of the show and not finding a single peacock (getting a bit worried there for a while) I drilled them, assembled the length she wanted and then made up the necklace and she is delighted They were about 1.5mm larger than she was expecting and they came in under budget too- because I knew I was turning them around very quickly there didn't have to be as big a mark up as normal.
                          Where are you (obviously a supplier in your own country works out easier)?
                          Author:Pearls A Practical Guide published by Crowood Jan 2021


                          • #14
                            Aside from the fact that Kamoka Tahitians are grown in an ecologically sustainable and responsible fashion, here's one of my favorite facts about the pearls -

                            Kamoka nucleates with beads made from their own Tahitian MOP!

                            Tahitian through and through! The Purist in me loves that!!! If you have to go with bead culturing to get Tahitian pearls of a certain size, and you do have to, this way pleases me enormously.

                            I'm not a vendor, I'm a slavering hopeful someday purchaser.

                            Sorry if my phraseology is wrong...
                            Last edited by lisa c; 11-19-2011, 05:07 AM.


                            • #15
                              I see that Caitlin five-starred this thread and for a really good reason. Jeremy did a brilliant job of boiling down the confusion in pricing of Tahitian pearls. Thanks to both of you for that.
                              And thanks so much Caitlin and Lisa for your kind words.
                              Josh Humbert
                              Pearl farmer and Tahitian pearl farming consultant.
                              FB: http://www.facebook.com/Kamokapearls