Jewelmer's Pearl Farm Challenges during the Pandemic - September 2021

Four decades ago, Jewelmer was established by French pearl farmer Jacques Branellec and Filipino entrepreneur Manuel Cojuangco. The brand has now become synonymous with exquisite jewelry made with the most lustrous cultured pearls in the world: golden South Sea pearls.

Jewelmer’s largest pearl farming challenge in this pandemic lies in its cultivation cycle. The majority of the company’s pearl farmers located in the Philippines were unable to physically be on the farms, greatly affecting the proper nurture of oysters. It is reasonable to foresee that the overall production volume of pearls and the average size of each pearl harvested will be reduced in the coming years. Overall, the natural phenomenon of the golden South Sea pearl will only become rarer as the years go on.

The company is blessed that the inventory remains ample, considering that the lower survival rate will affect the 2022 and 2023 harvests, instead of this year’s harvest. Last year, the company made a conscious effort of collecting its top-quality pearls to release them only when the market was ready. Jewelmer withheld selling the highest quality pearls of the harvest in 2020 to match the market demand at the time.

Currently, the price for exceptional pearls has bounced back and is even higher than pre-pandemic times. Alongside Jewelmer’s online auctions and its reliance on traditional business relationships, the company continues to produce and distribute extraordinary pearls by working with consistent and reliable business partners.

Additionally, production has been affected by certain environmental changes beyond Jewelmer’s control. These changes are related to the greater fluctuation of water temperature, ocean acidification, and the changing of the plankton profile that we are seeing in the local environment. Climate change affects the survival rate of certain batches of oysters, as well as the overall growth rate, so the brand makes adjustments according to recent forecasts. In light of these factors, Jewelmer expects a drop in Philippine production for next year. The challenges the maison is facing because of global warming make it more difficult to produce pearls.
Pearl Farm Philippines - Pearl Farm Philippines

These changes present both challenges and opportunities — the main challenge is of course that Jewelmer will have a lower volume to distribute to the global market. On the other hand, this also serves as an opportunity because with the lower biomass density comes the potential to achieve a higher quality output that will improve the average quality of the maison’s production.

Regularly dealing with environmental challenges as a company is particularly challenging. It is different, it is often unpredictable — it is essentially a huge lesson in humility, this reminder that Jewelmer is small in the grand scheme of things. As nature still controls much of the process, there are no guarantees that a pearl will be harvested. That is why the maison’s objective is to take care of this one-of-a-kind, natural phenomenon. Jewelmer depends on the incredible spirit of the people that make up its family, and the deep-rooted Filipino philosophy of bayanihan that shows in their every effort to work together and support each other especially during trying times.
Gold Lips in their Nets - Jewelmer - Gold Lips in their Nets - Jewelmer

Forum Admin's Note: I thank Franck Ferrari of Jewelmer for this update on the Golden South Sea Pearl's status. I had asked him about the issues that they had faced during the COVID-1 pandemic, and he told me, and I believed it would be important for all Pearl-Guide forum users to have this information as well, so they sent me this valuable communiqué. I placed Bold and Italics o emphasize the information that I believe will have a greater impact on the pearl world and -in particular- with dealers and golden pearl lovers worldwide.
Douglas McLaurin