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  1. #1
    First-graft Pearl Chameleon's Avatar
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    Default FW pearl shopping in China

    I might have an opportunity to travel to China in February or March next year. We probably fly to Shanghai and will defenetly buy pearls, but is there a real point to go to Zhuji or Weitang?
    Our budget for pearls would be around 2-3000 usd depending what we find. We would be looking for strands of 8-9, some 10-11mm off-rounds, some drops and rice pearls with great luster and surfice.
    I have read many old threads, but still not sure if there is a point to go out of Shanghai for pearl shopping.

    Regarding to this, I have some questions for those with the experience buying from China:

    - Where in Shanghai we could take the "quickest tour" to understand what is available with what price levels?

    - Is there something nice to see (historical places, beautiful nature) in the area of Zhuji so that there is a point to go there regardless of successful pearl buy?

    - What kind of deal prices per strand would be reasonable to expect for lets say, 9mm off-round with great luster and surfice?

    - Are there specific customs issues we should know about? Do we have to pay when leaving China or does this depend only on our home country?

    Any suggestions?

    Maria

  2. #2
    purveyor of pearls Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pearlescence's Avatar
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    Hi
    One part I can answer
    Estonia is a member state of the European Union so once an item is imported into any member state it can then circulate freely throughout all the union with no more taxes to pay
    You will need to check with your customs authority to see what duty is payable on first import into the EU via Estonia and it is worth checking if the duty is different for made up jewellery and simple strands (It usually is)

  3. #3
    Third-graft Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Raisondetre's Avatar
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    For small amounts, short answer would be no. If you want to see a large wholesale market in one of their farming towns, then yes for the experience. In general, farming towns do not have much in terms of attraction. I would not bother. If you go to Shanghai there are plenty of sights in the surrounding Jiangnan area which does not involve quite as much travelling. Hangzhou and Suzhou are famous for their history, with ancient buildings, canals and scenery. They have their own wholesale markets with pearls but are mainly tourist traps.

    In Shanghai you can there is a pearl market in Nanjing Road, the Pearl Circle near Chenghuang Temple and corner of Yan'an Road and Hongmei Road. I forget their exact names, but the cab drivers should know. Prices aren't always the same across the board. The third is generally cheaper as fewer tourists go there for pearls and there are other wholesalers in the same buildings, from clothes to shoes and accessories. I got a 9mm AAA deep lavender for about US$250 (current exchange rate - it was probably US$200 when I bought it). If you want off round that would be a grade or two down so it's half the price for every grade down. I even got a small 6-7mm off round pink exotic strand for around US$50 back then. I went in the off-peak season so they were eager to make sales.

    The Chinese customs don't generally care what you take out as long as it's not huge amounts of RMB (I think the limit is RMB20000). They love for you to take as many trinkets with you as possible. Customs in your own country would be a greater issue.
    Aspiring ninja. Go Storm Shadow!

  4. #4
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Nerida's Avatar
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    Hi Maria - I have sent a response to your pm.
    In Shanghai, Raisondetre is right - the best place is the Hongqiao Pearl Market on the corner on Ya'nan Road and Hongmei Road.
    Weitang is a good option, but still some distance from Suzhou, so you need to be pretty comfortable getting around in a (very) foreign country, or have an interpreter with you. It is about 45 mins by taxi from Suzhou, which is about an hour out of Shanghai by train. The trains are crowded, and when I use them, I am usually the only Westerner on board!

  5. #5
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Hanaleimom's Avatar
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    I've never been to China, but I found this http://gochina.about.com/od/shopping...sCirclesSH.htm. I think the pearl market in Nanjing Road, that Raisondetre mentioned, is Pearl City. In another forum, someone posted that she bought a lot of Tahitian and South Sea pearls at Pearl City recently for cheap. But most of her photos are not too good, so I can't say for sure if they were true bargains.
    Cathy

  6. #6
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Amrita's Avatar
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    Hi Maria! I have just answered your pm.

    I agree - no point in going to Zhuji or out of Shanghai for small amount of pearls. The Hongqiao market will serve your purpose quite well and give you a good first experience of the "pearl environment" in China. For Zhuji, you will first have to travel to Hangzhou by train (or taxi), and then on to Zhuji by taxi, on to Shanxiahu where the pearl market is. Here is a thread which has a photo-tour of the China Pearls and Jewellery City (CP&J City) in Shanxiahu town of Zhuji in Zhejiang Province, which might help...
    https://www.pearl-guide.com/forum/pe...ens-zhuji.html

  7. #7
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Nerida's Avatar
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    BTW the Nanjing Road market isn't as good lately as it used to be - there has been a lot of building work going on, and with the combination of that and the GFC, many of the vendors have been struggling. Meanwhile, I think the Hongqiao market gets better each visit, but you do need to bargain hard, and you do need to look like you know what you are doing.

  8. #8
    First-graft Pearl Chameleon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pearlescence View Post

    You will need to check with your customs authority to see what duty is payable on first import into the EU via Estonia and it is worth checking if the duty is different for made up jewellery and simple strands (It usually is)
    Incoming tax and EU system in general I know. In some countries the customs might get interested what you take out, specially if there is a lot in your suitcase and I was interested if China might be the case. Talking about a lot, I mean that if I will not find the nice 9-10mm offrounds for reasonable price, I might buy nice cheep ones (up to 10usd/strand). Then we would get quite many for the budget. .

    Thank you Wendy!

    Maria

  9. #9
    First-graft Pearl Chameleon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raisondetre View Post

    In Shanghai you can there is a pearl market in Nanjing Road, the Pearl Circle near Chenghuang Temple and corner of Yan'an Road and Hongmei Road. I forget their exact names, but the cab drivers should know. Prices aren't always the same across the board. The third is generally cheaper as fewer tourists go there for pearls and there are other wholesalers in the same buildings, from clothes to shoes and accessories. I got a 9mm AAA deep lavender for about US$250 (current exchange rate - it was probably US$200 when I bought it). If you want off round that would be a grade or two down so it's half the price for every grade down. I even got a small 6-7mm off round pink exotic strand for around US$50 back then. I went in the off-peak season so they were eager to make sales.
    Thank you, Raisondetre, for important information . Special thanks about the grading/pricing info!

    "They love for you to take as many trinkets with you as possible."
    - that must be very true

    Maria

  10. #10
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Nerida's Avatar
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    Maria - no problems with taking pearls out of China - I have taken out kilograms, even with their knowledge, with no problems at all.

  11. #11
    First-graft Pearl Chameleon's Avatar
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    Raisondetre, when is the off-peak season? Is March good or would February be better?

    Thanks Cathy for interesting reading!

    Nerida and Amrita, thank you for your kind help with understanding where I am getting myself into

  12. #12
    Third-graft Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Raisondetre's Avatar
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    I went just after Chinese New Year. That would be 14 Feb 2010. They shut down for about 2 weeks to rest/celebrate since rural folks who work in the city take the time to return home for a visit. That puts you in early March. In terms of weather March would be better - I remember it was near zero deg C when I went last time, late Feb/early Mar.

    Oh yes, I bought just the one strand, so that's a rough guide for retail pricing. They actually slashed prices themselves. Don't look too interested, point out the flaws of the pearls and not much negotiation is needed. If you buy more definitely go harder and get a better deal. I went at the end of my trip almost running out of money and they didn't have much that interested me so it was more them trying to get me to buy with whatever cash I had left.
    Last edited by Raisondetre; 10-20-2009 at 11:53 AM.
    Aspiring ninja. Go Storm Shadow!

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