Buckle Up—Japanese Akoya Pearl Prices Have Skyrocketed 80% with No End in Sight

From AGTA...

Joshua Israileff was stunned at the prices of Akoya Pearls when he visited the International Jewellery Tokyo fair in mid-January: costs per strand were about what he would charge his own clients.

“Prices were 30–80% more for AAA goods,” says one of the owners of ASBA USA.

In fact, after two days of walking the fair, he realized that one of the first vendors he shopped and turned down—“I wanted her to waive 10%,” he recollects—was actually offering fair prices. “She was right, and I was wrong.”

This sticker shock continues, with many dealers saying more price hikes are en route. Assael’s Peggy Grosz expects her main Akoya Pearl supplier to deliver new pricing later this month, after the rest of the Japanese Akoya Pearl auctions (these have been occurring between January and April) are complete.

“We’ll have to raise some prices and eat some of the costs,” says Grosz about her high-end brand’s Akoya Pearl programs in retailers like Neiman Marcus.

And with the Couture show on the horizon (the trade-only jewelry fair takes place June 1–4 in Las Vegas and is a major buying event for U.S. merchants), Grosz is already bracing for some difficult conversations.

“How do you sit in front of a retailer and tell them prices have gone up 60–80%? We’ll work on lower margins, but it’s a shame when Pearl demand is so high.”

Akoya Pearl strand from Mastoloni Pearls
Akoya Pearl strand from Mastoloni Pearls

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