The Unprecedented Rise In Pearl Prices Since 2020

Tuesday, 28 November 2023
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Pearls, often referred to as “nature’s jewels,” have been treasured for centuries for their timeless beauty and elegance. These lustrous gems have adorned the necks, wrists, and ears of royalty and commoners alike, making them a symbol of luxury, sophistication, and timeless style. Since Covid 19 days there has been a noticeable surge in the price of pearls.

What’s happening to Pearl Trade Pearl Sales

At the 2023 Jewellery & Gem World Hong Kong, in September, Chinese demand led to all stock being sold in 3 days which is unprecedented. One US pearl wholesaler said that the Chinese buyers were paying US retail prices for wholesale purchases.

Pearl Silver Ring Pearl and Diamond Ring Pearl Bracelet

Chinese demand is causing scarcity in the market and driving up prices, however there are other factors which are partly to blame. In Japan, there’s been a shortage of Akoya Pearls due to mortality and fewer growers.

Some white South Sea Pearls are still in short supply from pandemic days, when farm employees couldn’t get to remote locations, meaning some nucleation (introducing the bead into the oyster so the pearl will form) just didn’t happen.

Chinese freshwater pearls are in short supply due to Asian live streamers who’re buying out inventories from farmers and creating a tight supply in the local market. These live streamers are purchasing entire harvests from producers and paying increased prices to secure them.

And Tahitian pearls have seen huge price rises due partly to a Chinese actress who embarked on a campaign to promote a new movie by uploading social media posts of herself wearing a wide range of Tahitian pearl jewellery. This has resulted in a fervour for Tahitian pearls with the entire stock at the recent trade show being sold before the show opened.

No Pearl varieties are exempt

From the producer’s perspective it is hard to resist that kind of money, and guaranteed sales.

Prices of every variety of pearls have increased this year. In the first three months of 2023, prices of white Japanese akoya pearls had spiked 80%, and now seven months later, they’ve risen again as much as 100% by some estimates. Even natural-colour blue akoyas cost as much as 50% more.

Freshwater pearls aren’t immune to price hikes either. Chinese live streamers are mostly to blame and are affecting other dealer’s ability to secure goods. Dealers say prices are up a minimum of 50% and that traditionally non-nucleated varieties are difficult to find since the market is moving into growing more bead-nucleated freshwater pearls.

White South Sea pearls have seen prices hikes of as much as 200% year over year. “Every few months when there is an auction, Chinese buyers are paying 10–20% more than the market rate. When the next auction comes around three months later, they push up the prices White South Sea Keshi Pearl Earringsanother 20%. The Chinese buyers are not selling into world markets only into China, however the prices they are willing to pay affects prices overall.

Because of this unprecedented Chinese demand, wholesalers are able to sell entire lots of all sized pearls in one sale. This is most unusual as many dealers look to purchase individual pearls often to order or to match existing stock. Most non-Chinese buyers are not prepared to buy a bag full of 1000 different sized, shaped, and coloured pearls.


Tahitian pearls have seen the largest price jump in coloured pearls nearly 300% in the past six months alone because of Asian demand for all qualities of pearls.Black Pearl Ring

Most of the Tahitian pearl exhibitors in the Hong Kong exhibition sold out of nearly everything days before the show opened. What stock they did have left to bring to the show was old stock, that was all sold too.

This unprecedented Asian demand for Tahitian pearls can be largely attributed to one influencer. Chinese actress Ni Ni. She embarked on a Tahitian pearl-wearing series of social media posts in July to promote her latest film. That’s what got the Chinese excited and into all kinds of pearls. Now they can’t get enough, and there’s not enough to go around.

Similar sales are happening in other areas of pearl production, leading to a shortage of stock of virtually all categories of pearls at a wholesale Black Tahitian Pendantlevel. This will impact the retail market as dealers sell out of existing stock and need to replace it with pearls purchased at the new inflated prices. While the Chinese buyers are willing to pay the inflated prices, which is great for pearl producers, all consumers will be forced to pay significantly higher prices at least in the short to medium term.

A longer-term consequence is the lack of availability of pearls in the future as growers sell smaller pearls at the greatly increased prices to maximise returns and shorten the growing period. This will no doubt lead to a longer replacement period for larger pearls in the future and potentially put further pressure on the already high prices. Only time will tell.

Author Bio

Jill Hansen runs Anastasia’s Of Broome and is a highly recognised expert in both the fields of South Sea Pearls and Diamonds. Jill trained in seeding pearls in the Cook Islands by Japanese Pearl Technicians. Jill established a wholesale pearl business selling pearls all over the world. She pioneered the combination of pearls and diamonds to create Lust™ Pearls, a unique fusion of these two beautiful gemstones. Jill holds the prestigious recognition of being an Antwerp Diamond Broker for selecting and sourcing Diamonds direct from the diamond capital of the world, Antwerp. She is a diamond expert and is happy to use and impart her knowledge to help customers make informed decisions.

Not sure what your birthstone is check out our articles on all monthly gemstones here.


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