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Akoya Pearl Market 2024: Insights & Challenges

It is currently January 8, 2024, and the auction for Akoya pearls harvested on this day has finally begun. This auction is exclusive to a select group of approved companies within Japan. I’ve received the preliminary report for the first day, and here is an article summarizing it.

Despite the significant surge in Akoya pearl prices last year, it seems that the trend is continuing this year. On the first day, the largest and most well-known companies globally are cautiously observing the situation. However, emerging mid-sized pearl companies that have experienced rapid growth are showing remarkable momentum. Reports suggest that one such company is bidding at an unprecedented 1.5 times higher than the previous year. The situation appears poised for further escalation in the coming days.
From the perspective of pearl cultivation, this economic prosperity is highly welcomed.

However, for processing companies bidding on the pearls, the situation may be challenging. Inventories of many pearl companies are nearly depleted. It is difficult to source pearls at a lower cost amidst the soaring market prices.

As someone involved in procuring and selling Akoya pearls, I am concerned about excessively high market prices. Nevertheless, I had anticipated this to some extent, having sourced Akoya pearls at a higher price last year.

Currently, I am once again on a business trip to the island with a pearl cultivation farm. The third day of pearl sorting, which will continue until early February, is proving to be challenging. The instructions from the farm manager are quite vague; we are directed not to immediately classify pearls into A, B, or C ranks but to segregate them into A and B+ ranks. The manager intends to adjust the rank widths based on the overall situation. However, the specific range for the B+ rank is unclear and challenging for us, the recipients of the instructions, to understand. The nuances are heavily influenced by factors such as market conditions and the performance of the pearls. Deciphering how much to move an object on a table when told to “move it a bit to the right” requires us to gauge the habits of the instructing person, the clutter on the table, and the context. Despite having ten years of experience, these subtleties were initially beyond my comprehension. In the fourth year onwards, I began moving objects five centimeters at once, paying less attention to the manager’s intentions. However, in the past two years, I have returned to making one-centimeter adjustments.

“I played baseball with my nephew and niece at my parents’ house during the New Year’s holidays. This game brings back memories from over 30 years ago when I, too, played it during my childhood.” 
“By the way, if one were a true samurai, they would perform ‘seppuku’ (ritual suicide by disembowelment) for striking out.”

The manager wants to avoid immediate classification into A, B, or C ranks and prefers to place B+ pearls within the A rank based on the pearl’s performance, allowing for potentially higher sales prices. While I understand his intentions, he hasn’t effectively communicated these subtle nuances to us. Despite a decade of experience, I find these practices inefficient. Proper guidance is essential for employees, but the intricacies suggest that the quality of pearls cannot be determined mechanically. As humans are responsible for quality assessment, these seemingly circuitous procedures may arise.

Interestingly, the other pearl farm’s manager provides concise instructions, resulting in a much faster sorting process.

Regardless of one’s involvement in the pearl industry, the importance of the person giving instructions cannot be overstated.

However, I appreciate the nuanced instructions from the manager. During a recent meal together, I expressed my difficulties in understanding these aspects. He advised me to “view pearls from a deeper and broader perspective.” According to him, my emphasis on “radiance” in pearl selection is excessive. He believes that a more comprehensive assessment of pearl quality, considering factors like pearl layers, is necessary. Although I have a thorough understanding of these aspects after nearly ten years in the industry, his perspective requires a more advanced and broader outlook.

“The scenery of my hometown.”

I listened to his opinions with some patience. However, I realized that my personal preferences strongly influenced my sorting method. While I understand these concepts intellectually, implementing them is challenging. My selection process has become ingrained in me to the point where I automatically move my hands when I see pearls. Correcting this, akin to switching from right-handedness to left-handedness, is difficult. Nevertheless, I feel that I have glimpsed the depth of pearls anew.

In terms of the pearls I sell, I will continue to prioritize those with a focus on “radiance.” However, I aspire to broaden my perspective and understand pearls on a larger scale.

Now, this article was initially intended to be a brief overview of the pearl auction, but as usual, the narrative diverged. Given the complexity of this story, I’m uncertain if the English translation captures it accurately.

However, I currently lack the time to thoroughly review these texts. It is already late at night, and my eyes are nearly closing.

Fortunately, I’ve received several pearl orders in the last two days. Unfortunately, this has delayed the preparation of the article.

For orders on Etsy and this site, I have set the shipping date to be in February. This is due to the considerable distance from my hotel to the post office in my current location. However, I will do my best to ship pearls to customers with the intention of making them happy, even if it means a slightly simpler packaging, a lack of my mother’s handmade tissue cases, or the inability to prepare jewelry cases during this stay. I plan to seize a day when the sorting work finishes early to handle the shipping.

Despite the mention of “shipping in February,” I am genuinely grateful that people still placed orders. Thank you very much.

As many are aware, Japan experienced tragic disasters and accidents at the beginning of the year. While earthquakes are frequent in Japan, they are exceedingly rare at the start of the year. The support I can provide specifically is through donations, so I want to continue contributing to the assistance of disaster-stricken areas.

Numerous voices and wishes for support have reached us from people in many countries. These can be powerful. Lately, I have begun to believe that such prayers can turn into tangible support through action.

However, the telegram expressing condolences from the supreme leader of North Korea to Japan was genuinely surprising. Many Japanese people were bewildered, yet there are also those who sincerely express gratitude. While I cannot forgive North Korea for their abductions, I appreciate this message. It feels somewhat like a delinquent student completing homework for the first time, as some have expressed.

Well, I will report on the auction situation again. Thank you very much.

“Lulu, looking somewhat bothered, watching my nephew and niece excitedly running around for three consecutive nights during the New Year’s holidays.”



I am part of a Japanese company with an Akoya pearl farm. Apart from the company, I personally run an Akoya pearl shop. I would appreciate it if I could share smiles with various people through pearls.

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