By Jennifer Heebner, Editor in Chief
When Diamond price list creator Martin Rapaport unveiled a booth of natural Pearls from Bahrain in the 2023 AGTA GemFair Las Vegas, part of the JCK Las Vegas show, it was both a curiosity and a success for the category. There was enough interest (and sales) that the booth will be set up again at GemFair Tucson at #1726 in the GemHall.
It’s rare for Americans to see natural nacreous Pearls, they’re much more common in the Middle East and in the inventories of European estate jewelry dealers. But natural Pearl sales are something that Rapaport’s partner in the booth venture, the Danat Institute of Bahrain, is keen to see take root stateside. That’s why Rapaport and Danat are bringing more natural Pearls to Tucson.
Rapaport’s Ziggy Spindler, who manned the Las Vegas booth with Bahraini Pearl Diver Mohamed Al Slaise, told AGTA that they were pleased with show results in the desert.
“Retailers see potential,” Spindler told AGTA in Las Vegas. “They just need to understand the product and how to market them.”
Both men are heading to Tucson and will have a wider inventory of goods. Expect to see parcels, singles, and even strands of natural Pearls, all verified as natural by Danat. These Pearls are found by the country’s many individual free divers, who scour the Persian Gulf for Pearls from the Pinctada radiata oyster or from any of six other native species there. They’re not easy to find, Al Slaise told Rapaport in 2020, saying divers might find “one pearl in every 100 oysters.”
So, while you won’t see cases packed to the brim with natural Pearls, you will see more than were available in Las Vegas.
“We learned from what we brought to Las Vegas,” says Spindler. “We’re bringing a finer collection of Pearls, which range from 1–2 mm up to 15 carats. In Las Vegas, we found that some designers are interested in making unique pieces of jewelry with larger free-size pearls.”
Something else new? Rapaport aims to house an inventory of natural Pearls in New York City. Auctions, too, for other natural Pearl lots, will take place twice in 2024 in New York City, Dubai, and Bahrain. Talk to Spindler about all opportunities for purchase at the booth.
“Natural pearls are only available in very limited quantities, setting them apart from commonly found cultured pearls,” explained Rapaport in a press release. “Our distribution programs will focus on clients that wish to offer something truly special and rare to their customers.”
For more information, visit Rapaport.com/pearls.
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