Japan is showing no signs of slowing down as it takes a major step in further strengthening its reputation as the world’s trading hub for cultured pearls.
In an interview with JNA, Yoshihiro Shimizu, chairman of the Japan Pearl Exporters’ Association (JPEA), talked about the country’s extensive marketing initiatives specifically geared towards Asia as well as the latest trends and challenges in the pearl sector.
According to Shimizu, stakeholders of Japan’s pearl industry recently met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss the Japan Pearl Promotion Law.
“The law will be implemented officially in July by setting up three major committees: A farmers’ committee; a committee of pearl distributors, including exporters; and a committee on education and promotion,” revealed the JPEA official. “These will set the scene towards the full implementation of the law.” The law, signed in June last year, is aimed at further reinforcing Japan’s pearl sector, with emphasis on advances in processing and distribution, research and development, export and global competitiveness.
Under the law, Japan’s Ministers of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery and of Economy, Trade and Industry are in charge of crafting a basic plan to improve and fortify the country’s loose pearl and pearl jewellery industries.
“The government is prepared to support the campaign through sufficient funding. We are thinking of doing something big at the June Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair next year,” noted Shimizu.
He also said Japan’s marketing and promotion efforts are primarily directed towards Asia, specifically China. “The US and Europe are still recovering so we have to focus on other markets. Bulk of the promotions will be concentrated on Asia,” the JPEA official continued.
Shimizu also disclosed that the industry is in talks with Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games Minister Tamayo Marukawa about the possibility of promoting pearls during the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Shimizu also underscored the importance of putting in place such a massive marketing initiative to further spur demand for pearls.
Citing results of the June Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair, the pearl specialist said buyers seemed to gravitate towards South Sea pearls since there is a shortage in supply of top-quality Tahitian pearls. Loose pearls also moved faster than pearl necklaces, he added.
“There is a shift in customer preference to white, yellow and golden South Sea pearls, which pushed the demand for South Sea pearls. Buyers, however, continue to be price-conscious,” noted Shimizu.
The Chinese market prefers round to near-round pearls in smaller sizes of 8mm, 9mm or 10mm. Prices are pegged at $50 to $70 per piece or lower.
“There are people willing to pay $120 per piece at most for better-quality pieces in bigger sizes of 13mm, 14mm or 15mm. Some are looking for top-grade, clean goods that cost around $200 to $250 per piece but these are no longer easy to supply,” revealed the pearl expert.