China Overtakes and Surpasses Japanese Pearl Market While Freshwater Pearls are Becoming the Fashion Item of Choice

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While Japanese is having a pearl crisis, the market for Chinese freshwater pearls is holding steady despite recession. Online pearls wholesaler has increased sales as freshwater pearls are becoming the fashion item of choice

Despite the recession, CathayGems announced increased 15% sales for the year of 2009 with the market for Chinese freshwater pearls holding steady

More than 25 pearl experts from around the world gathered at the inaugural World Pearl Forum in February 2009 at the Atlantis hotel, Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. The single forum saw discussion of the collective growth strategy for pearls in light of the recession and other factors influencing trade and markets across the globe.

At that time the US market for cultured pearls is projected to exceed $1.6 billion by the year 2015. Japan was plummeting fast due to the wipeout of many saltwater akoya farms due to phytoplankton, and the door was opened for China to step into the gap with inexpensive but gorgeous freshwater pearls. Now, almost a year later, China holds a clear lead with a market of $3 billion in freshwater pearls.

"There was this once in a lifetime opportunity," says Lan Toma, spokesperson for, a California based company with family owned freshwater pearl farms in China. "We were positioned to make our move, and we did. The recession was making people tighten their belts, but women always like jewelry. The market came to us because we could provide exquisite pieces at a fraction of the price."

CathayGems is only one of many wholesale pearl and pearl jewelry suppliers that benefited from the Japanese pearl crisis. China has fifty times the production capacity of Japan, and freshwater pearls from offshore farms carry not nearly as high a price tag. Most people when presented with a strand of large, matched freshwater pearls from China and a strand of Akoya pearls cannot tell the difference.

The market for the less expensive but just as beautiful pearls picked up over the past year, as First Lady Michelle Obama sported strands at several state functions and other prominent female politicians followed suit. Pearls are always in evidence on the red carpet as well, with Queen Latifah wearing a huge set teardrop pearl earrings to this year's Oscars.

"There was a brief period when pearls seemed like they were going to be relegated to the grandmother set and young girls' sweet sixteen parties, but the market rallied," continued Lan Toma. "We're seeing a resurgence in demand, and also people are now mixing pearls with gold or diamonds and other precious stones to create unique jewelry pieces."

CathayGems recently expanded their stock to include a variety of gold and diamond jewelry in addition to the traditional pearl offerings, and have been pleased at the response. "People are still buying, even in the recession they don't stop buying," Lan Toma commented. "They just look harder for good value for their money, and we can offer that." is a branch of C.D. Plus, Inc., an established California corporation, which also operates a wholesale pearl division. provides the marketplace with freshwater pearls and fine pearl jewelry directly from family owned pearl farms offshore China, and operates an in-house manufacturing unit. Its headquarters are in San Diego with offices in China and representatives worldwide. The organization has an impeccable record with the BBB. For more information, log on to or call Lan Toma, spokeswoman, at (619) 405-8044.

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