The Hong Kong Exhibition Center in Wanchai
We’ve just returned from one of our largest buying trips of the year, the March jewelry show in Hong Kong. This is always an important trip because much of our inventory is depleted during the back-to-back Christmas and Valentine’s Day shopping seasons.
Hisano and I landed in Hong Kong at 9 am local time on Tuesday, and arrived at the Wanchai Exhibition Center at 11 am. The show lasts only five days and every day is important, so like usual, we set out as soon as we landed. That evening, and every evening that followed, we had dinners with friends and suppliers – four nights in all. Saturday, as soon as the show finished, we were back on an airplane headed to Los Angeles. It was exhausting, to say the least, but equally rewarding!
We had a lot of ground to cover in five days, and a lot of items on the shopping list. My job was to find the difficult lots that were needed to plug holes in our inventory, while Hisano spent more time finding new and special pearls. I have to admit that I was a bit jealous, but she does have the eye for it and my buying strengths are negotiating and name recognition.
Below is a breakdown of some of what we came home with this week.
In January, 2011, we had the opportunity to purchase the entire stock of AAA rounds from a large trader in Tahiti at a good discount. Because we were battling the rise in the Euro at the time and Tahitian pearl prices were starting to go up, it made sense. We still have thousands of loose rounds left over, but we were starting to run low on 8-9 mm and dark peacock in nearly every size.
This situation created a problem for us on two fronts; most Tahitian pearl lots come in sized lots of 8-10 mm and purchasing separated dark-peacock Tahitian lots can be very expensive. Furthermore, 8 mm Tahitians have become somewhat scarce over the past year, so most 8-10 mm lots contain very few 8-9 mm pearls.
Over the course of the week, I met with three different producers (including Alexander Collins from Takaroa where our Tahitian pearl documentary was filmed) and one trader, and was able to negotiate deals on six different Tahitian pearl lots. One was a dark, mixed lot of 8-9 mm, and the others were all dark peacock lots of varying sizes – exactly what we needed.
A selection of the 10-11 mm Peacock rounds that we brought back from the show.
Hisano and I also met with Chi Hyun of Galatea to examine (and ultimately purchase) his new line of hand-carved Tahitian pearls. Unlike the “carved” Tahitian pearls we’ve seen in the past out of Tahiti, Chi’s pearls are genuinely carved and not simply etched. Stay tuned for this collection!
South Sea Pearls
In the South Sea genre we went all out. We had every size of white rounds on our list, and purchased lots ranging in size from 9 to 17 mm, most from a single producer. We had good luck with golden South Sea as well, purchasing round lots ranging from 9 to 12 mm, a nice lot of drops and baroques, and even one lot of free form baroque and circled unfinished strands – something we rarely do, but as you can see from the previous link, our stock is low. We were so happy with what we found, we should be well stocked through the entire year!
We didn’t have much on the list for akoya this trip, and what was on the list was in short supply. We needed to find some nice lots of 6-6.5 mm and 6.5-7 mm, but very few were to be had. In the end, we only returned with around 150 strands of akoya.
As usual, this is where Hisano and I had the most fun. While I spent nearly two full days separating out loose pearls for our freshadama and metallic white lines, Hisano visited at least a half dozen producers and processors looking for those special, must-see-to-believe pearls. I can’t go into too much detail and spoil upcoming surprises, but some of her finds included; giant black Edisons, some of the largest baroques I’ve ever seen, metallic fireball pairs, green-golds and even large, drop-shape metallic whites. This is going to be fun!
We did spend the last afternoon of the show getting in a bit of eye candy and visiting some of the well-known natural pearl dealers like Shanghai Gems and Tara and Sons. The conch, melo melo and other exotic naturals were amazing.