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  1. #1

    Default Bringing pearls from abroad (the Philippines)

    Hi there!

    First post here, so please be gentle. I have a question about exporting/importing pearls. Is there an export duty on this? As far as I can see there isn't, but I tried calling and e-mailing the right government agency, and so far no answer.

    I wouldn't want to be stuck in customs after having broken some unknown rule, so if you know anything, please help.

    Also, in general. If I'm travelling to Europe (or the US for that matter) from a country where I buy pearls, that means stopovers would be hard and I would have to travel directly to my country of destination, right? Or else I'd have to pay import taxes in the stopover country too if they have any, I mean.

  2. #2
    Pearl Scholar Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pattye's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum, Snowpearl,

    That's quite a few questions, so I hope you can get answers from the right government department. I'm not sure anyone here will be able to answer with authority.
    Pattye


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    SO MANY PEARLS, SO LITTLE TIME----

  3. #3
    First-graft Pearl Senior Guide Member
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    As far as I know, you only pay import duty in your home country. If you live in the US, you will be handed a customs form on the plane on the flight that has you first touching US soil before you land. Any duties would be paid there. Sometimes younpay sometimes they say a necklace is a personal item and wave you on.

  4. #4

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    Thanks for the warm welcome. :-) Glad to be here, Pattye. I'll just go ahead with a follow-up while we're at it.

    My impression was the Philippines produced lots of quality pearls, then I read the white pearls here are imported from China, and even the South sea pearls are bought at auctions in Hong Kong. But there are pearl farms here, the sea has a lot of shells and even in Norway my friend told me he remember finding pearls in common mussels. My impression was they produced a lot of good value pearls here.

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    I bought these pearls over at the local mall Ayala in Cebu (Jewelmer has a branch there). This is what my friend who deals in pearls says:

    "Most of the pearls here come from Palawan. Some from Davao. They also have fresh water pearls and that's a tier lower. The ones you bought are a grade lower to South Sea pearls, which is the best item available."

    I'm getting the impression some people think there are no white saltwater pearls from the Philippines for sale, and that there are basically just thousand dollar South Sea pearls like Jewelmer sells, and cheap fresh water pearls from China. Can anyone enlighten me?

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    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert
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    Hi Snow pearl, welcome to P-G! I have wondered the same question. From my perspective, as a US citizen living in the US, what responsibilities do I have if buying pearls from HK, China, etc, to bring into the US for myself or to sell as a jewelry artist?

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snow pearl View Post

    My impression was the Philippines produced lots of quality pearls, then I read the white pearls here are imported from China, and even the South sea pearls are bought at auctions in Hong Kong. But there are pearl farms here, the sea has a lot of shells and even in Norway my friend told me he remember finding pearls in common mussels. My impression was they produced a lot of good value pearls here.

    This is what my friend who deals in pearls says:

    "Most of the pearls here come from Palawan. Some from Davao. They also have fresh water pearls and that's a tier lower. The ones you bought are a grade lower to South Sea pearls, which is the best item available."

    I'm getting the impression some people think there are no white saltwater pearls from the Philippines for sale, and that there are basically just thousand dollar South Sea pearls like Jewelmer sells, and cheap fresh water pearls from China. Can anyone enlighten me?
    I can help enlighten here.

    All the pearls produced in the Philippines are currently grown in Palawan. Those pearls do not stay in the Philippines except in the case of vertically integrated Jewelmer. The pearls at the markets - even the gold pearls that could be from the Philippines - have all or nearly all come from shows in Hong Kong and markets in China.

    There are no pearl farms in Davao. There have never been any pearl farms in Davao. There is no pearl farming anywhere in Mindanao. This is what locals say, because the pearl vendors at the markets in the Philippines all lie about this. Nearly every dealer in Greenhills claims their pearls come from this area. It is not true.

    There are no freshwater pearl farms in the Philippines. The freshwater pearls in the Philippines all (100% of them) come from China.

  7. #7

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    Thanks, Jeremy. Impressive business(es) you have! As an international authority on pearls and general pearlpreneur I'm inclined to believe you over a bunch of pearl vendors at the local malls and markets. :-)

    So basically I'm buying Chinese freshwater pearls at an inflated price outside of Jewelmer when I shop in the Philippines?

    How is Singapore for pearls, is Hong Kong/China the only/best game in town (the town being Asia)? Any tips for a place? I'm going there next week for a day. The thing is I travel quite a lot from Asia to Norway. I acquired an interest in pearls and I figured I might buy some here and sell them in Norway as a hobby/side hustle, since prices seem high and general knowledge low there. I'm no expert on pearls, but I hoped the general high prices in Norway might make up for my lack of expertise. Seems like it might be a bit of a bum idea now though, looks like I might as well buy them online from China or Hong Kong.

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    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert KarinK's Avatar
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    I am from Denmark so the pearl situation is much the same here (as in, I would never buy from a local store). I am sure you will be able to buy pearls abroad for a lot less but my thought is how you plan to sell them in Norway. Do you plan to get a small shop or compete with all the online sellers?

    - Karin

  9. #9

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    Karin, I would try to sell them online. Getting a physical shop means a major investment, and I'm interested in online marketing. Also the online shops don't seem very good, most just have generic titles like "Pearl necklace" and price, no info on pearl size, origin, lustre, etc. I could probably do something better than that without too much effort.

    Would you think it's cheaper and better to buy them in a shop physically in the Philippines or Singapore compared to buying them online from for example China? If the pearls in the Philippines are all from China anyway I see little reason in buying them here, I thought they produced a lot here and you could get the best prices locally. Jeremy, do you have an opinion on this, am I thinking correctly here?

  10. #10
    Pearl Scholar Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pattye's Avatar
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    Snow pearl,

    You might find it really helpful to take the CPAA pearl course, PEARLS AS ONE, before you get too deep into buying pearls. Somewhere around here is a code so there is no cost to take the course. You are awarded a certificate when finished and your newly gained pearl knowledge will help you understand what you are buying. I'll add the code when I find it.
    Pattye


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    SO MANY PEARLS, SO LITTLE TIME----

  11. #11
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert KarinK's Avatar
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    I'm just thinking that with an online shop, your competitors would not be Norwegians but other international sellers. You might want to check out some of the Etsy stores.

    I agree with the suggestion to take the online course. I haven't but have spent some years reading here and have learned a lot and I feel I know what I am getting when I buy pearls online. Try to check out vendors like WenPearls and KongsPearl on etsy.com for material (also to be able to compare prices where you go in Asia, this just might be cheaper) and look at what finished pieces people are selling to get an idea about the market.

    - Karin

    Quote Originally Posted by Snow pearl View Post
    Karin, I would try to sell them online. Getting a physical shop means a major investment, and I'm interested in online marketing. Also the online shops don't seem very good, most just have generic titles like "Pearl necklace" and price, no info on pearl size, origin, lustre, etc. I could probably do something better than that without too much effort.

    Would you think it's cheaper and better to buy them in a shop physically in the Philippines or Singapore compared to buying them online from for example China? If the pearls in the Philippines are all from China anyway I see little reason in buying them here, I thought they produced a lot here and you could get the best prices locally. Jeremy, do you have an opinion on this, am I thinking correctly here?

  12. #12
    Pearl Scholar Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pattye's Avatar
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    Here's the link to the course; does anyone have the code which makes it free?
    Pattye


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    SO MANY PEARLS, SO LITTLE TIME----

  13. #13
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snow pearl View Post
    So basically I'm buying Chinese freshwater pearls at an inflated price outside of Jewelmer when I shop in the Philippines?

    How is Singapore for pearls, is Hong Kong/China the only/best game in town (the town being Asia)? Any tips for a place? I'm going there next week for a day. The thing is I travel quite a lot from Asia to Norway. I acquired an interest in pearls and I figured I might buy some here and sell them in Norway as a hobby/side hustle, since prices seem high and general knowledge low there. I'm no expert on pearls, but I hoped the general high prices in Norway might make up for my lack of expertise. Seems like it might be a bit of a bum idea now though, looks like I might as well buy them online from China or Hong Kong.
    I wouldn't call the prices over-inflated. You can definitely get deals from the vendors there, but you're not getting what they claim they're selling. If you understand what you're buying and take everything told to you with a grain of salt, you should be fine. But you should really know what you're buying because you will be lied to.

    A few years ago, I walked through Greenhills market with a GoPro camera. I didn't ever publish the video, but I filmed vendor after vendor telling me their pearls were from Mindanao.

    Quote Originally Posted by pattye View Post
    Here's the link to the course; does anyone have the code which makes it free?
    This code works on all the languages

    PP10951

  14. #14

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    Very nice to get such a warm welcome with all experts sharing their knowledge. And thanks for the (free!) course Jeremy, that seems like just the intro I was looking for. Signed up!

    I'll share a bit about myself since you're all sharing here. I'm a sworn/government authorized freelance translator, and I also run small agency, thetranslatorium.com. I'm originally from Norway, but I've been travelling around the world for 11 years. However, after 11 years I've started to tire from the endless grind of translating and I'm looking for other part-time and full-time professions, and I got interested in pearls when I bought some for my girlfriend. I did a web search for pearls and this place kept popping up, so here I am.

    Quote Originally Posted by jshepherd
    I wouldn't call the prices over-inflated. You can definitely get deals from the vendors there, but you're not getting what they claim they're selling. If you understand what you're buying and take everything told to you with a grain of salt, you should be fine. But you should really know what you're buying because you will be lied to.
    Ok, so you can get decent deals here (and Singapore? No import taxes on 99% of products there as I understand it). But if they're all made in China anyway, why not just buy them from China, doesn't it just add an extra link to the buying?

    Karin, I guess a lot would want to buy from an international supplier, but a large chunk would probably want to buy locally/nationally too. For one thing consumer laws don't cover foreign markets, so if I can compete in price, I might be preferred for a lot of customers.

  15. #15
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert KarinK's Avatar
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    Just be sure to research the market well, also what it takes to be found by search engines or if you can join a a portal, before making any major investments. I wouldn't want you to get burned. The lack of decent online sellers in Norway could be because there is no interest. Just a point to keep in mind. Small purchases that can be passed on to GF if the venture is unsuccessful is always recommended

    You should probably learn to string and wirewrap too to make finished pieces. And don't forget about getting findings! Several of the people on this forum attend the Hong Kong fair to buy. You might be able to time your travels with that.

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