Pearl jewellery has room for classic looks and modern fashion

Pearls are perhaps the most complex category of product in the jewellery industry. They are grown from live oysters, which make them prone to the same dangers that threaten any agricultural product (such as disease, hostile weather and overproduction), no matter how well the operation is managed. The sales and distribution system (as with much of the jewellery industry) is complex. Pearls have many different origins, shapes and a range of quality variations that are difficult to judge with the naked eye. This makes it very confusing not only to consumers, but to many retailers.

“It’s a tough sell right now,” said Chi Huynh, owner of Galatea, a California-based designer of pearls and pearl jewellery. “Retailers do not have the money to stock the inventory of items that are not fast sellers. Strands of pearls are not the kind of item flying out the door every day and because of that, they don’t carry it. It makes the market soft.”

Quality pearls were once rare and precious and carried a significant price tag – even after they were successfully cultured. Perhaps this is why they have been worn so conservatively over the years and perhaps why a classic string of white pearls is associated as a look for mature women.