I got a great question a few weeks ago that I wanted to discuss:
I took my moms pearls in to be restrung and was surprised when they told me there isn’t a resale value on pearls. I was told they disintegrate and Mikimoto pearls are the only pearls that might increase value. Do you agree?
This question reminds me of visiting a jewelry store a few years ago. I was looking around, checking out the price on their stunning South Sea pearls, when I overheard a woman who had come in to sell her diamond ring. She and her husband (or fiancé?) had split and she wanted money for the ring he had given her. My sister, who was with me at the time, wanted to jump in and buy it if the store chose not to but she didn't get a chance, the jewelry store made a deal with the woman for the ring.
So, here is the deal... the woman did not get the money that her fiancé had paid for the ring. How do I know? Simply because the jewelry store has to turn around and resell the ring. And what if they had not made a deal with the woman, my sister would have jumped in and promptly offered to buy the ring at much less than her fiancé paid. Why? Because she wanted a deal!
The resale on jewelry can be tough simply based on who is purchasing your jewelry. There is a pawn store reality t.v. show that takes place in Las Vegas. Many people bring in memorabilia, and the shop owner will bring in experts to value the memorabilia. What happens next? The pawn shop owner offers the customer 50% or less of the assessed value. Why? Because he wants to resell it for a profit! He does not want to pay the customer what it is worth.
So, is there a resale value on pearls? Good question. Maybe and maybe not!
First and foremost, the person buying the jewelry either wants a deal or simply wants a profit margin to resell it.
Then, yes, pearls are very precious and sensitive gems so their use and possible degradation over time may affect the overall value of the pearls.
As with everything, demand is an issue. I started dealing in natural American pearls a few years ago. What is the value of a natural American pearl? Well, one might argue that the value is high because they are all natural pearls (which typically sell for more than cultured pearls) and they are not very common. However, the demand for them is not very high either, so one might argue their value is close to $0. If no one wants a really rare product, is it still valuable? That is a question for the economists!
Are Akoya pearls, 30-50 years old, a fairly common strand of pearls to come by? Is the demand high for them? It probably isn't. Are Mikimoto pearls in demand? Possibly. The brand name recognition is there and, again, people might be trying to get a strand of vintage Mikimotos for cheaper than they could get a new strand. I wouldn't actually recommend purchasing a strand of Mikimotos based on the signature clasp alone. Since I run a pearl jewelry repair shop, I know how easy it is to switch clasps!
So, lets talk about auctions! Some pearls have an astronomical resale value in the auction market. These have included pearls with historical significance, pearls who have belonged to famous people, pearls from unique areas, natural and rare pearls and more. Today in L.A., a large purple Quahog pearl is being auctioned at Bonhams Lapidary Works of Art, Gemstones and Minerals auction. Expected to be sold for around $30,000, a man found this pearl while eating a $25 meal of clams!
When discussing a resale value on pearls, I will say this: I would not purchase pearls or any jewelry with a desire to see an increase in value. I actually wouldn't buy much of anything expecting an increase in value simply because many investments are simply difficult to predict. Buy pearls because you love them and want to enjoy them. Buy them because they make you feel amazing and beautiful and classy. Buy them because you deserve them. Buy them because you are in love with a woman. And if they get to the point where you are no longer enjoying them, restring them into a new design, pass them on to someone who'll enjoy them more, and if worse comes to worse, then think about reselling them. I imagine that most investments, including top labels like Mikimoto, will not see the return when they resell their pearls.
Does this make pearls unique? Not necessarily? Many works of art, types of jewelry, top label designer clothing and handbags and more will fall into the same category.
Thanks for reaching out and for the great question!