Australian south sea pearls

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Leading Pearling Company Puts Focus on Education

24 February 2016
Paspaley Pearling Company looks back at the year in the pearl sector and ahead at what the Year of the Monkey will bring. Company executive director Peter Bracher shares with JNA Paspaley’s strategic priorities in 2016 and discusses the importance of consumer education in today’s competitive luxury goods market.
Digital initiatives
In spite of the economic headwinds caused by stalling economies and a general decline in consumption, Bracher described 2015 as a “good year overall with consistent demand and steady prices throughout the year.”
“The result of the Christie’s Magnificent Jewels Auction in December was a nice way to finish 2015,” he said.“We offered three pieces at the auction including two featuring natural pearls and one featuring an important cultured pearl. The standout was the Paspaley natural pearl collar, which achieved $260,000 over its estimated reserve. The necklace was designed by Edmond Chin of Etcetera, and featured an impressive selection of graduated natural button shaped pearls.”
Among Paspaley’s key achievements in 2015 were the serious strides it made in consumer education and customer engagement through its digital platforms.The pristine waters of Australia’s North West where Paspaley farms are located.
“For the first time in 2015, we provided online access to all Paspaley auction attendees. All communication and results are now posted on – allowing customers to remotely receive all the information they require postauction,” Bracher said.
The pearling specialist also launched its @Australianpearls Instagram page designed to provide further education and interest in the category. “The next step will be launching an Australian Pearls profile on WeChat to engage with the Chinese market and increase awareness of the characteristics that make Australian pearls so rare and valuable,” Bracher added.
Consumer education
Asked to share his business outlook for the South Sea pearl market this year, Bracher said “production levels should remain stable for the foreseeable future and we expect prices to reflect this.”
“Most qualities of South Sea pearls increased in price between 2013 and the first half of 2015. During the last year, prices of some commodities including diamonds and gold fell quite significantly while South Sea pearl prices remained quite stable. Short of an uncontrollable event such as a currency crisis or major conflict, we have no reason to expect the market to deteriorate significantly,” he explained.
Consumer education remains a major challenge for the pearl sector in the coming years.
“Educating the market about the various pearl types within the pearl category is likely to remain the biggest challenge facing our industry,” according to Bracher.
“We believe that clearly differentiating the distinct qualities of the various pearl types is essential to driving demand for the entire category. There remains a great deal of confusion among end-consumers
about the differences between natural pearls and cultured pearls, treated pearls and untreated pearls,
saltwater pearls and freshwater pearls. Each category has its own desirable characteristics and the clearer these are to end-consumers, the more likely they are to engage with the category. If end consumers are confused or unsure about which type of pearl is best for them or the value it represents, they are likely to invest in another product altogether.”
Sustainable gems
Fully embracing leadership in environmental stewardship, Paspaley is currently in the process of being certified by an independent, internationally recognised marine conservation organisation.
“Ethical production has long been a priority for Paspaley, and is increasingly important to end-consumers. This certification will provide assurance that Australian South Sea pearls are the ethical and environmentally responsible choice,” Bracher said.
“We know that a pristine environment is essential to the production of fine-quality pearls. As the result of strict regulation of the Australian pearl fishery, our pearl beds are healthier today than they have been for over a century. Environmental studies have shown that our pearling operations have benign
environmental impact.”
During 2015, an award-winning team of filmmakers spent six months filming Paspaley’s operations for a one-hour documentary showcasing these aspects of the Australian pearling industry. Set to air globally this year, Bracher said Paspaley is hopeful that it will be well received by a wide international audience in 2016.
In early 2016, Paspaley will commence its next major marketing initiative being the development of an international wholesale marketing strategy for the promotion of Australian South Sea pearls. The company has engaged an award-winning creative agency to assist with the development and implementation of strategies to effectively communicate with key markets.
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