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  1. #1

    Default Buying pearls in China

    Hi,
    I'm going to China in a few weeks and I'm wondering if someone could provide me with some general pricing information on how much a nice strand of larger freshwater pearls might cost. Its been suggested to me to shop for pearls in Suzhou-can anyone suggest a particular place or other cities? Thanks!

  2. #2
    Pearl Maven Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Caitlin's Avatar
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    Where in China do you plan to go?

    We have a few recent threads by other people who are going to -or just went to -China to buy pearls.

    If you peruse the various indexes, you will find a lot of interesting information and some recent price quotes too..
    Caitlin

    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.

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    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Nerida's Avatar
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    Hi - if you are looking for just a couple of strands - stay in Shanghai - no real need to go out to Suzhou - just go up to 558 Nanjing Road EAST - fairly close to the famous "Bund" and go to Daxi or Ling Ling on the second floor - they have lovely pearls and for small purchases, will be hard to beat. You could also go to any of the traders at Pearls Circles - 3rd floor, 288 Fuyou Road - not the tourist spot underneath, but keep going upstairs.

    You won't get any real benefit in going out of town for a few purchases only. Have fun.

    Nerida.
    Last edited by Nerida; 03-06-2008 at 08:14 AM. Reason: corrected address, spelling

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    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerida
    Hi - if you are looking for just a couple of strands - stay in Shanghai - no real need to go out to Suzhou - just go up to 558 Nanjing Road EAST - fairly close to the famous "Bund" and go to Daxi or Ling Ling on the second floor - they have lovely pearls and for small purchases, will be hard to beat. You could also go to any of the traders at Pearls Circles - 3rd floor, 288 Fuyou Road - not the tourist spot underneath, but keep going upstairs.

    You won't get any realy benefit in going out of town for a few purchases only. Have fun.

    Nerida.
    I agree. The market is perfect if you are shopping. If you are looking for large wholesale lots venturing outside would be worth it, but if you are just looking for a couple of strands the market is perfect. Just remember to negotiate. The first price they will give you is high, high-tourist. The final price could be as low as 20-30% of the original.

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    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Nerida's Avatar
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    Yes, negotiating is everything! Just do it with a smile on your face, and remember it is just part of the process of buying in China! If you aim to pay 30% of their asking price (a good guide), then start by offering 10% and look like you mean it! Be prepared to walk away if they don't meet what you are suggesting - more than half the time they will call you back and agree to your price... have fun, and don't look as if you have your heart set on the piece you are looking at.. it will just make bargaining harder!

  6. #6

    Default

    Thanks for the info-I'm actually going to Suzhou as part of a tour and a Chinese friend of mine suggested that might be the best place to buy.

  7. #7
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Nerida's Avatar
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    Suzhou is a very pretty place. Be sure to visit the Humble Administrator's garden - there is also a lovely ancient town just out of main Suzhou...sorry, can't remember the name, but your tour will probably take you there.

    I don't know any specific dealers in Suzhou - you are certainly that bit closer to the growers than in Shanghai. The dealers I traded with are at Weitang - about 30-40mins away from Suzhou by car...

    Have a great time, and be sure to tell us/show us what you buy!

  8. #8

    Default getting more specific!

    ok, I definately have a better idea of what I'm looking for now and have a couple more questions-
    I'd really like to buy either large (12mm) as close to round, high quality freshwater pearls, or some of the really large freshwater "chinese kasumi" pearls like the posting on Chinese and Japanese Freshwaters on this forum. Will I find this high quality pearl at all of the major places in Shanghai/Beijing/Suzhou?
    Last edited by green perls; 03-12-2008 at 05:06 AM. Reason: spelling mistake! sorry!

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    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Nerida's Avatar
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    Just from my experience, it will be difficult for you to find things like the kasumis fw alternatives at most of the major traders. I am sure others will know more definitely, but most of the traders sell what is most regularly available, and that is masses of average stuff, and a little of the good/great/unusual.

    I bought a strand of bead-nuked FW's (14-16mm) for about $250US in Shanghai - I didn't see them "everywhere" as per the Tuscon reports. Remember that the vendors would obviously be taking their best/newest/most popular stuff to the gem show, whereas in China there would be stacks of growers/vendors etc. who don't even know about "Chinese kasumis" or the bead nucleation work. That said, you might luck out and find something special.

    I managed to buy some lovely clean strands of 11 - 12mm almost rounds for between 140 and 200 USD per strands - gorgeous lustre, some with orient, perfectly round visually. Depends on where you go and how much you are buying and how good you are at bargaining. These were purchased at Weitang (see old post in FW forum). I also saw some fabulous gem quality for up to $900 per strand at 12-13mm (with a good deal of negotiation). Initial price was several thousand dollars..I found it very hard though to find the fabulous unusual pearls generally - like huge keishis, fat large coins with great orient etc etc. and negotiations on these was much more difficult, obviously due to the rarity of these pearls.

    Good luck, I have no idea if my experiences echo those of others who buy in China, nor if I ended up paying too much or too little. (haha on the latter..) Just remember to be prepared to walk away from the negotiation - often you will be followed and your terms met, but you really have to be prepared if they don't!

  10. #10

    Default thanks for the info

    this is very helpful-I definately want to get something more unique-I already have a lovely pink set that was purchased for me at an upscale jewelers, and a necklace of 8 or 9mm white pearls that has been in my family for at least three generations. So, that said, I will be looking for something either large or very unique-I just wonder if there are any places that have more of a specialty inventory-though I'm sure for the first day or two I'll just be taken aback by the masses of stock!

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    Default not everything is price

    For the senior pearl dealers who have been rattling around China for a decade, price per size/quality is a serious consideration. For a novice like me, spending more and getting less sometimes has a huge payoff. OK, so I stayed in a ratty hotel in a two-bedroom business suite across from KFC. I paid $58 a night (internet price) for an office, but the management had cut the hotel's internet. The employees got me taxis to the new pearl market and I wandered around looking at what the Chinese are doing with pearls to market them. I got three ideas. Next, by going to Ruan's, Tears of Angel and Grace, I got enough "blue" pearls to make two necklaces for my own use. These pearls are: blue with gold, true blue, and blue violet. They are mixed in one interesting necklace. Do blue pearls have a market? Probably not. Was it worth 8 hours? Yes. Will I eventually follow the advice of the senior members? Yes. Not now, however. I'm an economist. Watching the Chinese happily prosper gives me a thrill. Hooray for capitalism and free trade. Obviously my web business is more hobby and less business. When that changes, I'll follow the seniors. Meanwhile, I'll visit most of the pearl "factories" in Zhuji City, one factory at a time and learn a lot. I took a strand of Freshadama this time as a "master" strand. That helped. I got stung by a "guide"; that helped me take the seniors' advice: I'm better off on my own. I'd like to learn the language used everyday in Zhuji, but I'm afraid it is Wu or some non-Mandarin type. If anyone knows, please clue me in. It would be nice to be able to say "thank you" in their dialect/language. Am I still an amateur--- (spit) tourist? Yup. Am I ashamed? Nope. The macro view is too interesting.

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    [QUOTE= I'd like to learn the language used everyday in Zhuji, but I'm afraid it is Wu or some non-Mandarin type. If anyone knows, please clue me in. It would be nice to be able to say "thank you" in their dialect/language. Am I still an amateur--- (spit) tourist? Yup. Am I ashamed? Nope. The macro view is too interesting.[/QUOTE]

    hi:suzannelowrie,

    don't afraid use dialect of "thank you " in zhuji, most of the people will understands your meaning in zhuji city.
    but at beijing or shanghai ,its different.unless you speak Mandarin"xiexie".
    ZheJiang HuiBao Pearl Co.,Ltd.
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    FW Pearl Supplier from china .

  13. #13
    Third-graft Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Raisondetre's Avatar
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    Meh, I wouldn't worry about the dialects. Mandarin is known as putonghua, which means it's the common language used in China. Even the minority ethnic groups know it. When I was in Shanghai everyone tried to speak Shanghainese to me just out of habit, but it wasn't a tough switch to Mandarin for them at all.

    I would like to add my review of the various pearl markets mentioned above. I kinda touched on it briefly. Bear in mind that although most Mainlanders can tell I'm not local, I still speak their language and the fact that I know about the bead-nukes and second generation keshis seemed to impress most of them. I only accepted prices that I thought bettered the online vendors, though I am unlikely to get the lowest possible price maybe seasoned locals would get. Going during their off-peak sales season e.g. after Chinese New Year definitely helps. In most cases they were the ones who initiated the discount after sensing I wasn't really interested unless there was a good deal to be had.

    Pearl City Nanjing Road - did a whole round perusing all the stores, entered Ling Ling and Daxi for more detailed browsing. Ling Ling herself was not there. I suspect she would be more involved in the Beijing stores as the upcoming Olympics would guarantee more sales at better prices. Tons of employees following us around, but reluctant to cut the prices. I didn't see outstanding quality that I'd like so I passed on most things. I had better luck with smaller vendors elsewhere who were really keen to make a sale. Daxi was slightly better. There were a couple pearl/carved shell brooches and pendants marked at RMB380 that were down to RMB80, no negotiation allowed. My mom really liked those and while it wasn't wholesale pricing, it's still cheap retail and acceptable for the quality so we got them anyways. My guess is that the larger Ling Ling and Daxi get, the less interested they are in making sales with lower profit margins especially if they have established customers. Ru Pei Pei had some nice stuff, but a 8-9 mm pink FW AA+ was marked at RMB 8000. There was some blemishing and more off-rounds than I expected, and the coloration was not as saturated under fluorescent as opposed to the showcase lighting, so even if I got down to 30% of the asking price I would not have been as happy as I would be with my Pearl Circle 8-9 mm lavender strand purchase. That purchase was nearly effortless. There was only one bead-nuked strand in a muddy purple color. I didn't ask the price for that as the color was not ideal and I would have been hesitant to get it until the bead nucleus is proven not to be the giant clam shell. Ru Pei Pei's staff would answer questions but would not offer any additional information, like they were just totally not interested.

    Pearl Circle/Village Fuyou Road (near Chenghuang Temple) - Ling Ling and Daxi were there again. There was also the usual mass of glass counters in the middle of the floor in addition to the regular stores fringing the perimeter. Quite difficult to peruse. Everyone is beckoning to you and there is just way too much to take in. Mostly generic AA or below quality. They probably do keep the good stuff until you ask for it. The potato beads caught my mom's eye so we hovered around one of the stalls. While she haggled I wandered over to the stall opposite looking not really interested. I wasn't planning on buying anything under 10 mm anyways until the owner brought out the lavender strand that I bought. I told her straight up I was not interested in the off-rounds and she brought up at least twenty more strands of lavender. The one I picked was the most saturated, and when I asked for larger ones she very honestly said it was very rare in that color. The light violets were just not lustrous enough to catch my attention. It became apparent that I knew what I was talking about when I asked for the 14K gold clasp and only looked at the most saturated/lustrous strands. Their pinks were really not impressive. We didn't do much negotiating. 2800 became 1800, plus 120 for the white gold clasp, and when we wanted to walk away, she said we'd make a deal at 1700. I probably should've been harder, but I knew it was already much cheaper than what I can get anywhere else and in such small quantity. There's nothing that beats the satisfaction of picking out pearls yourself and watching it get strung right in front of you.

    Hongqiao Pearl Market Yan'an Rd and Hongmei Rd - if you can only pick one pearl market to go to, this would be it. We visited it on the last day of my 8-day kaemono daisakusen, so the cash was down. Ling Ling was there as well. We saw a white triple strand AA+ with a shell clasp marked at 900, discounted only to 800. We left and they didn't even bother to call us back. They have too much business to bother with us. Did a rough round and my mom saw the dyed AA golden triple strand. They were very honest about it being dyed, and the price was right at about 120 or something. The pink triple strand was a bit more expensive as my mom picked out AA+ pearls with matching colors, so the total was 380 for both strands after negotiation. The lady boss was very sweet and kept recommending other costume jewellery. In the meantime I asked about the lavenders wanting a price comparison, but her colors weren't saturated enough and she brought out smaller pinks eventually. The devil luster pinks really caught my eye, and she knew I knew quality, and offered to take all the lustrous pearls and put it into one strand for a little more. I liked it too much to go too hard on the bargaining - I probably could've got it for 250 or less, but I settled for 280. The yellow gold ball clasp was free though, which I was surprised at. The 14 mm solitaire was a bit of a surprise. I wasn't too interested as the blemishing was quite apparent, but the luster and color/size/shape were too good to pass up. The chain and setting were 18K white gold not 14K as I said previously. Again, 1800 might not have been the best price. I probably could've gotten 1500 if I went really hard. But I guess if the quality/price are acceptable it's not a big deal in my currency anyways.

    Would I go to Weitang or Zhuji? If my voracious appetite grows I might. If only my mom would make the trip with me or I can trick some innocent friend into going.

    But for freshadamas I would still stick with PP. I cannot deal with spending so much time picking through that many pearls and fretting over the matching/graduation unless it were for special colors. I nearly went crazy after picking out my pink exotic strand since I couldn't decide quite how to match/graduate them - there was still a slight different in colors from pearls from different strands, and it was not a smooth graduation in size.

    I am quite interested in the blues and still on the hunt for cotton candy pink. More devil luster pearls are almost always welcome. I think the production is increasing, so we might see more in the near future.

    If anyone else wants to know what else I bought, feel free to email me. I can go on forever ...

    PS: There is actually a great Japanese restaurant with a clean bathroom just outside Hongqiao pearl market. That gives it a triple plus in my book. And it's cheap too.
    Last edited by Raisondetre; 04-04-2008 at 01:59 AM.
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  14. #14

    Default Back from China!

    So, my trip to China was very interesting-I looked in Shanghai and Beijing-and here are the results (if I can ever get a good photo I'll post them!). In Shanghai I went to Pearl City and looked for a strand of large pearls-I was reasonably disappointed by what I saw, however I ended up buying a strand of 12mm peachy pearls. They aren't perfect in terms of shape, however in comparison to what I saw-they are not blotchy, are of reasonably even size and very shiny. Looking back after Beijing, I probably paid a little too much for them, but so it goes. In Beijing, I bought two pairs of earrings from Sharon's Store on the very top level of the Pearl Market-each earring has two hanging pearls which are huge uneven tear drops, with lovely orient. As a last minute purchase I ended up picking out four quite nice strands of lavender 9mms and having them strung together to make a rope (trying to find some that matched was quite a feat!). All in all, a great experience. By the time Beijing came around in my trip I was more comfortable bargaining, so things were easier and I got better deals. But what fun!!!!

  15. #15
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Nerida's Avatar
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    Hi - I am off to China again in a few weeks' time. This time mostly just accompanying my husband on a business trip - I still have about half the stock I bought at the end of January , so this is a chance to just pick up a few bits and pieces. I think this time I will go to the Hongqiao market - there is nothing I particularly desperately need (other than Care's Sea of Cortez necklace, the Kasumi bracelet, etc) so it will be good just to look around.

    I am interested that Raisondetre says to go here if there is just one place you go to - I've never been there on previous trips, so am looking forward to the change! Weitang I think is still worth the visit if you are looking for quite a few things.

    My experience with the other traders was definitely much the same as Raison's as well - Ling Ling good, but not that interested in discounting, slightly better at Daxi, occasional worthwhile finds at the other traders. Rupeipei's staff were almost dismissive - certainly didn't get the impression they were interested in my business at all, and won't go there again.