By Allen P. Roberts Jr.
July 01, 2005
During a Beijing layover in 1996, Northwest flight attendant Jeremy Shepherd
bought a set of pearls for about $25. When a U.S. appraiser valued the pearls at
$600, Shepherd emptied his bank account, returned to China, and bought 200
strands to sell on eBay. He now sells $5 million in jewelry a year through Santa
Monica-based Pearl Paradise. Buying in bulk and with cash, Shepherd negotiates
cheap prices with pearl farmers, so the firm can sell the jewelry at an 80%
discount from retail.