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  1. #1

    Default Greenhills, Kultura or Naccara -- where to buy good SSP in Manila?

    Hello, I'm a longtime lurker who found this forum when I was contemplating my first SSP purchase and now I'm just beginning to build my own mini-collection. I'm based in Manila and like many before me, I went to Greenhills and got completely bamboozled by the experience -- the pushy vendors with hard-sell tactics, the padding of prices, the subpar pearl stock -- it can be a lot if you don't know much about pearls. (And of course I will be the first to admit I know very little)

    After my Greenhills experience, I went to the "safe" option and bought some pieces from Jewelmer but I feel like the pieces are overpriced (to me) for what they are and what they add to my wardrobe. The pearls are beautiful, no doubt, but I feel like having a good strand of SSP shouldn't cost as much as a Manila apartment.

    I guess what I am trying to ask in a long-winded way is if there is any happy medium between Greenhills and Jewelmer where I can purchase a strand of fairly good quality in Manila? Customs taxes are exorbitant and extortionate in the Philippines so I am afraid ordering from vendors outside the country is a no-go.

    I have bought some SSP studs from Kultura and Naccara but I find so much variation in the pearl quality and stock based on the store. Are there any other trustworthy local brick and mortar SSP vendors in Manila I should check out? Any help or comments would be much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Once upon a Cortez Pearl... Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert CortezPearls's Avatar
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    Hello Bluenotes! Welcome to our Pearl loving Community!
    I guess most will sympathize with the way you feel when you want to invest in a product that you know little of...and it happens to us all (I went shopping for a laptop recently...oy!).
    Anyway, let's wait and see what our experts have to share with you on this subject!
    Douglas McLaurin-Moreno
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  3. #3

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    Thanks CortezPearls for the warm welcome. I learned a lot from lurking in this community and the tips I picked up probably saved me a good deal of money from being spent on all the wrong things. Hopefully the resident experts can come through again.

  4. #4
    Pearl Scholar Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pattye's Avatar
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    Welcome, Bluenotes,

    I'm not sure we have any forum members posting from Manila right now. The information we've received is that many dyed/color treated "golden" pearls are on the market right now, some only detectable with laboratory testing, others clearly dyed.
    Buying from Jewelmer means you have genuine GSS with natural color.
    At the bottom of this page are similar threads regarding Manila pearl shopping. I'm hoping you will find useful information there on the more current threads.
    Pattye


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  5. #5

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    Thanks for the suggestion Pattye. I think I may ask some jewelers I trust to help me source what I want although that might be tricky with some of the fairs like HK being cancelled. As an aside, I'll post my tiny minuscule collection I amassed the past few months or so when I got bitten by the pearl bug. Some pieces are from Jewelmer while the most recent addition is a pair of 14.3mm studs champagne studs I found in Kultura the other day for about 700 USD -- not cheap but nowhere close to what I'd pay for them in Jewelmer.

    Photo here:

    https://imgur.com/UALu63n
    Last edited by bluenotes; 11-05-2020 at 05:58 AM. Reason: link didn't show

  6. #6
    Second-graft Pearl Senior Guide Member
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    Dear Bluenotes,

    It is nice that you have a big pearl market in Manila. I went there several times and a lot of nonsense is told there that the pearls come from Zamboanga area, knowing that some pearls go there delivered by the Badjoe tribal people who dive near Jolo, Tawi Tawi, etc. But there are hardly any natural oysters on the sea bottom anymore. Also that fresh water pearls are coming from a lake in the South of the PH.
    Many wholesalers from the PH I see on the Fairs in Hong Kong, they are famous for heavy bagaining and I see many at the booths where enhanced pearls are sold.

    Jewelmer pearls are sold from their Hong Kong office to wholesales in Japan, Hong Kong and China.
    So there is a possibility that Jewelmer pearls end up in the PH markets.

    The question only who to trust. The margins are very high on the markets in the PH also, I noticed.

  7. #7

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    Thanks for the advice Cees. My last trip to Greenhills I asked them in Filipino where they got their SSPs and they were quick to admit that most of them came from Hong Kong. Thankfully I didn't buy any gold or champagne SSPs in Greenhills because I was aware from reading your posts that a lot of them are color-enhanced. I bought a pair of deep gold earrings from Jewelmer that I will probably wear next time I go to the market so at least I have a good example of what a natural deep gold pearl should look like.

    I feel like Greenhills would be a lot of fun if you know what you are doing and if you know the reliable vendors. There are even pictures of Imelda Marcos sifting through pearls there so I assume it isn't all bad quality, I just wish that shopping in Greenhills isn't so labor intensive.

    Agree that the margins are pretty high in the PH market, mostly because I feel like it's so polarized. You have one end that's extremely premium (Jewelmer) and then you have Greenhills where vendors (more often than not) try to cater to a bargain-hunting demographic. The SM group is a big box retailer who owns Kultura, I wonder if they are going to fill that niche of mid-range quality/value pearls. Would you happen to know where the SM group gets their pearls? I find them to be better quality than most things I see in Greenhills.

  8. #8
    Pearl Scholar Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pattye's Avatar
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    Thank you for sharing your insights, Cees. It's nostalgic to think about shopping in person, as covid has closed our gem faires for the time being.

    Bluenotes, we look forward to seeing your pearl collection!
    Pattye


    PatriciaSaabDesigns.etsy.com

    facebook.com/PatriciaSaabDesigns

    SO MANY PEARLS, SO LITTLE TIME----

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