Cultured pearls are like grapes! Which, is pretty funny to think about, since I just wrote a post on how pearls are like wine. After writing my last blog, I began to think about how cultured pearls are grown, how they have good years and bad years, high yields and low yields. For this and other reasons, pearls are like grapes.
Let me break it down!
First, cultured pearls are a crop. They are a luxury crop but a still a crop. Cultured pearls, remember, use human intervention to start the pearl-making process. The involvement does not stop there, though. There are pearl farms and pearl farmers that tend this crop. There are lots of preparations that go into the maintenance of this crop and the pearl farm. Most importantly there are good years and bad years in pearls. There are weather and other environmental factors that effect the pearl yields. There are also some years that are really great for pearls. This is in the same way that there are some years that are really great for grapes.
When I started working with pearls in 2006, it was boom time! The yields were high, the quality was high and the prices were low. It was a great time to get started with pearls. There have also been low years with pearls. This year we are seeing high prices and lower yields as many farmers are choosing to exit the cultured pearl business! But, let’s speak to more to my new revelation on cultured pearls….
Different regions of the world specialize in different types of pearls based on where the mollusks thrive in their natural environment. There are certain regions better suited for pearl cultivation. This is in the same way that certain grapes are suited for certain climates or, again, to different parts of the world. Champagne, anyone?
Cultured pearls are a high stakes business; cultured pearls are like grapes. In the wine grape business, much money is invested up front with hopes to recoup the investment and produce a sound and luxury crop. This might be just true to any farming operation. I know my father-in-law, a corn and soybean farmer invests huge amounts of money just to start the season.
What happens when the crop of grapes are sub-par? Do the farmers simply call it a loss and throw them out? No! Most grape farmers will still sell their grapes even if they go into lower quality wines. The same is true for pearls. Even if the pearls are sub-par, most of them still go to market. They may yield lower prices but they are still utilized and sold.
So, drink up! And enjoy your pearls! Know that a pearl farmer took great care to grow and cultivate your cultured pearls!