Feature Gems & Gemology, Fall 2007, Volume 43, No 3

From Single Source to Global Free Market: The Transformation of the Cultured Pearl Industry


Over the past 15 years a combination of market forces, environmental events, and scientific research has radically changed the cultured pearl industry from a single commodity dominated by one producer to a highly diverse industry operating throughout the Pacific region. The new products, consistent quality, and broader marketing programs in turn led major designers and retailers in the United States and Europe to take a much greater interest in cultured pearls. During this period, consumer interest has expanded from the traditional small and medium white round Japanese akoya cultured pearl to the larger South Sea and Tahitian goods, as well as numerous previously “undesirable” shapes and colors.

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