8th – 11th of May 2010. For the last few years, Hong Kong has been the single largest importer of Tahitian cultured pearls. As an indication, in 2009, 57 % of the gross volume of Tahitian cultured pearls was exported there. The importance of this market justified, in 2007, the creation of an organization dedicated to promoting the Tahitian Pearl in Hong Kong and Mainland China: the Tahitian Pearl Association of Hong Kong (TPAHK), which is committed to pursuing its promotion campaigns for Tahitian Pearls in Hong Kong and Mainland China.
This organization, presided over by Mr Johnny Cheng, of the Rio Pearls company, wishes to continue its promotional activities in favor of Tahitian Pearls, in the form of a partnership with Maison de la Perle. On a case-by-case basis, Maison de la Perle would be keen to avail itself of the experience and infrastructure provided by such an illustrious partner.
The TPAHK representatives also confided in us their intention to help Tahitian Pearls penetrate the market in China, a country in which our pearls still enjoy a positive image amongst local consumers. Their wish is to associate the Tahitian Pearl with a far-reaching project to set up a 150 000 sq ft Center, entirely devoted to Pearls in the Hunan Province (60 million inhabitants). This China-based distribution network could represent a fine opportunity for Polynesia to test and penetrate the Chinese market. We will be keeping a close eye on the evolution of this project, which has been granted the necessary authorizations by the Chinese government and should open to the public in September 2011.
This mission was a great opportunity to visit many sale outlets and to better determine the position and image of pearl jewelry from Tahiti. We were able to observe that Tahitian Pearls were frequently mixed with Chinese cultured pearls of the freshwater variety, which are artificially colored and sold at a significantly lower price than our pearls.
Questioned on the subject, sales people have indicated that very few consumers asked about the origin of the pearls, and only a minority could distinguish between untreated, naturally colored Tahitian Pearls, and other pearls.