See part 1 of our post here: Grandmother's Graduated Pearls
Can't get enough of those Japanese cultured pearls!
Despite the fact that the cultured pearl trade was severely damaged by World War II, after the war, the industry boomed. Demand was high and competition was low. Both the U.S. and many countries in Europe were loving the Japanese cultured pearls. The production of cultured pearls increased through the 1950s and 1960s and life was good.
But, sometimes, good things come to an end (or at least they have a low thrown in with that high!). Suddenly, in the 1960s, the supply of Japanese akoya pearls exceeded the demand. Prices bottomed out and cultured pearl companies went bankrupt.
So, here comes the regulations! In the 1970s the Japanese government stepped in to bring the pearl market in balance. By 1972 prices stabilized and the good years began again. The pearl market thrived in the 1980s and 1990s.
In the 1990s a mysterious disease swept through akoya pearl oyster populations. It killed many oysters. This epidemic was devastating to the pearl industry and acts as a great reminder of how unpredictable this business truly is.
Now, the Japanese are involved in both the import and export business. The Japanese export about 18-20 tons of akoya pearls a year. They also import South Sea, Tahitian, and Chinese akoya cultured pearls which are sold in Japan as well as exported.