"Pearls lie not in the sunshine. If you desire one, you must dive for it." - Chinese Proverb
This proverb is hundreds of years old, yet it still captures the essence of Jeremy Shepherd's amazing life story as if it were written specifically about him. Maybe that is because Shepherd's real life reads like a fairy tale. Exciting enough to begin with the words 'Once upon a time', it is an epic saga of a young man who journeyed to Asia, where he traveled far and wide, seeking Nature's most elusive Holy Grail - the perfect pearl.
Jeremy Shepherd's quest not only took him to the far regions of that continent; it was also an intense inner journey, requiring years of training and observation, so that when his treasure actually appeared he would have the wisdom to recognize it.
Shepherd was born in Germany, the son of a US Army officer. Growing up both in the US and abroad, it seemed natural that he developed a sense of adventure. Jeremy was always fascinated with languages and he mastered Spanish and Japanese while still in his teens. He even learned to speak the obscure Chuuk language of the South Pacific Micronesian Islanders, and later, he was Berlitz trained in Mandarin Chinese. By age 14, Jeremy was totally immersed in Asian culture, teaching himself to speak fluent Japanese by training two hours a day for four years. His unusual dedication and focus convinced his parents to let their son travel to Japan on his own, so that he could attend high school there.
Years later, after living in Mexico and the South Pacific, Jeremy Shepherd moved back to the US. During a trip to China, he wandered into an exotic pearl market. There, he was drawn to a strand of the beautiful gems, which he handpicked by instinct. Back in the States, a jeweler told him they were worth twenty times the price he originally paid. Jeremy immediately cashed in his entire paycheck and returned to Asia to buy every pearl he could afford - never looking back on his bills or his job. Thankfully, his risky venture paid off. Over the next eight years, Jeremy visited Asia more than two hundred times, eagerly learning everything there was to know about pearls. He studied their cultivation process from beginning to end, and developed friendships with the people who farmed them.
But pearls were much more than just a financial investment for Shepherd. Ultimately, he was a true collector. And so he mastered the difficult art of discerning the worth of these opalescent prizes through trial and error, plus the sheer force of his determination to succeed. Jeremy handpicked and examined literally millions of pearls until he could read the subtle signs that separated an inferior orb from her princess sister. He also obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Business and Marketing, and became a GIA graduate with a certificate in pearls.
By using his twin talents as a negotiator and expert appraiser, Shepherd eliminated layers of middlemen and local agents by personally visiting hundreds of pearl farm in Asia that produced quality pearls, no matter how remote. The farmers were impressed by his ability to conduct business in their language. Several of the top farms rewarded Jeremy with exclusive contracts that gave him first choice of the cream of the world's pearl crop - at the most reasonable price.
When Shepherd started importing his Asian treasure back to the United States, he discovered that in retail stores, pearls were marked up as much as seven times what the investors paid for them. After a journey from farm, to agent, to factory, importers, tradeshows and jewelers, the typical consumer could expect to pay around $4000 for a strand of pearls that probably cost as little as $300 at a farm.
Jeremy realized that if he sidestepped all the middlemen and sold his pearls on a volume basis, he would only need a small markup to finally make these gems available to the common Man, he bypassed traditional retail stores in favor of plying his trade in a relatively new marketplace - the Internet.
By the ripe old age of 33, Jeremy Shepherd was able to build a $20 million on-line empire known as PearlParadise.com. To this day, he does very little advertising. His unique company's success is based primarily on word of mouth, honest respectability and helpful service that Shepherd cultivates as carefully as his beloved pearls. He now enjoys a worldwide reputation for his uncompromising quality standards and farm-direct prices. PearlParadise.com has been featured in such high profile magazines as Newsweek, Inc., and Entrepreneur. Although his company continues to grow exponentially, Jeremy Shepherd still delights in traveling to the far flung reaches of the globe to personally handpick and inspect each and every pearl for his customers.
Most people know that a pearl starts out as a tiny bead, around which many layers must form. It acquires its beauty and luster only through the passage of time, which is why it has become a legendary symbol of wisdom. It could be considered appropriate that the pearl also happens to provide the perfect metaphor for what Jeremy Shepherd has strived to achieve throughout his life.