While pearls have unfairly been regarded as “old women jewels,” the notion is changing now with several celebrities and influential women, including Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, and Michelle Obama have started wearing pearls, thereby aiding the revival of the pearl jewelry market across the world. They have emerged as a fashion statement in jewelry over the years.

Gold Vs. Pearl in Jewelry

The global demand for gold jewelry waned to 2,200 tons, which was a decline of 0.04% compared to 2017. The reduction in gold jewelry is mainly attributed to the decline of 3% in the fourth quarter of 2018. According to the World Gold Council, the decline was due to several regional challenges and global economic trends. The average price of gold increased from $1,087.5 per oz in 2009 to $1,279 per oz in 2019. The increasing price of gold is expected to be a challenge for the market, as middle-class consumers are less likely to afford it. On the contrary, pearl jewelry offers modern design and is accessible as there is a wide selection to choose from with a friendly budget. The growing affordability is expected to increase in the popularity of contemporary pearl jewelry.

Freshwater Pearls

Freshwater pearls are the most popular and affordable option, which are largely favored by first-time buyers and novice jewelry designers. The freshwater pearls jewelry segment accounted for over 40% share of the global market in 2019 and more than 90% of freshwater ones are harvested in China. Freshwater mussels are cultivated in lakes and man-made ponds. These ponds are fermented with animal manure and often chemical fertilizers to produce algae. However, badly managed pearl farming can lead to water pollution and eutrophication. Pearls farmers are likely to implement innovative technology to thrive in the long term. Farmers and scientists are investing on greater use of automation in aquaculture to help avoid eutrophication. The demand for freshwater pearls jewelry is expected to grow due to the increasing need for inexpensive jewelry, especially in the younger population and first-time buyers.

Geographically, the APAC region was the largest market for freshwater pearls jewelry, with over 55% of the market share in 2019. The presence of the largest jewelry market in countries such as China, Japan, and India is likely to drive the demand for freshwater pearls. The region is also expected to witness the fastest growth, supported by economic developments and surging middle-class population with high disposable incomes, which are expected to bolster the market.

Saltwater Pearls

Saltwater pearls are more expensive than freshwater ones as they are extremely rare in nature. This segment accounted for over 60% market shares in 2019. The rise in water pollution and overharvesting of saltwater pearls has resulted in the decline in the production, which is boosting their average price globally. High-end consumers with greater disposable income prefer these types due to their rarity and expensive nature.

The availability of a wide range of branded, saltwater pearl jewelry with unique designs is expected to boost the sale of these products. China, Japan, and India are the largest markets in the APAC region. The growing economic development, the increasing purchasing power of consumers and increasing preference among consumers for high-quality jewelry are expected to reinforce the market during forecast period.

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Prominent Vendors

  • TJC
  • Tiffany & Co.
  • Stewart Dawson
  • Mikimoto
  • Misaki
  • Honora Pearls
  • Yvel
  • Joomi Lim
  • Dogeared
  • Carolee
  • Atelier Mon
  • Chandrani Pearls
  • Chow Tai Fook
  • Tanishq
  • Tasaki
  • Majorica Pearl
  • The Pearl Source

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