The Japanese jewellery market has experienced a higher demand for pearls, from surprisingly unexpected clientele – men, causing prices to surge.
According to a spokesperson for luxury retail company Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings, while pearls have been widely associated with women, a fast-rising fashion trend is gaining strong momentum in Japan where “demand for pearls is growing in particular among men in their 20s and 30s.”
Jewellers across Japan have been intensifying marketing campaigns to attract the male demographic calling them “pearl boys”, as reported by Nikkei Asia.
In September 2021, pearl jewellery retailer Mikimoto collaborated with French fashion company Comme des Garçons and launched a unisex jewellery collection called Passionnoir.
Around 30 per cent of customers for the Passionoir pearl collection are men, according to a Mikimoto representative, who noted that the trend is a “great opportunity to highlight the appeal of pearls as a fashion accessory.”
However, other than consumer demand, a shortage in Japanese pearl production contributed to the rise in prices.
Based on 2020 data from Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, pearl production has declined by 10 per cent based on a two-year difference.
Aside from COVID-related reasons for the production decline, a “mysterious event” that killed millions of Akoya pearl oysters in 2019, largely affected production figures.
Quality pearls have already seen an increase in wholesale prices by 10 to 20 per cent.
The impacts of the production decline may further increase prices this year as it may take more than two years for production to stabilise.
Oysters take two years to grow before they start to produce pearls and another year or two for a pearl to fully form before it can be harvested.
Japan was the purveyor of cultured pearl farming at the beginning of the 20th century.
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