By Jeniffer Barrett
Pearls are always a perfect gift-especially for a woman whose birthday is in June (Its her birth-stone). But before you buy, take note. When the SARS epidemic swept China - producer of the vast majority of freshwater pearls - it not only stopped pearl buyers from visiting China, it also kept Chinese wholesalers and retailers from attending tradeshows where they sell their pearls to Western buyers.The result? U.S. pearl stocks could drop 30 percent as early as mid-summer-driving prices up 15 to 20 percent, says Devin Macnow, executive director of the Cultured Pearl Information Center. His advise: buy now. Or buy form the handful of wholesalers still traveling to China, like Jeremy Shepherd, owner of PearlParadise.com. He got such bargains, he's reselling pearls at just one tenth their appraised values.