A major article from the New York Times today reflects what pearl and bead stringers have known for some time: that Chinese freshwater pearls are achieving significant quality factors and provide a lower cost alternative to South Seas pearls.
More important, it also discusses the trajectory of the Chinese pearl market and that is toward large, one-half to one inch pearls with significant quality factors. If this is true, it does portend a wonderful market development.
Freshwater pearls this size have been around for some time. However, they’ve been difficult to find and their quality uneven with noticable skin blemishes and uneven nacre coverage.
The Times article also discusses another interesting development. Apparently Zhan Weijian, a farmer in East-Central China is developing what he is calling “Edison Pearls” — purple, pink and bronze colored pearls that are not dyed and available in sizes up to half an inch. (Although the article does say the Edison pearls aren’t dyed, it doesn’t mention if they are otherwise treated.) The picture of Edison pearls from the Times is above.
In any event, these are interesting developments for pearl and bead stringers. Here is the link to the Times article, “Freshwater Pearls, Made in China.” Be sure to watch the slide show.