Q&A: First time exhibitor AGL Pearls on trends, market competition and CARAT+
Pearls have found their place among diamonds and gemstones in contemporary jewellery design, says Shekhar Shah, director of Japan-based Anmol Gems (AGL Pearls). Here, he speaks to CARAT+ reporter David Brough about Tahitian, South Sea and Japanese Akoya pearls and why his company is exhibiting at Antwerp Expo for the first time.
Q: What highlights will you be showing at CARAT+ in 2018?
Shekhar Shah: We are a wholesaler of cultured pearls, specializing in Tahitian and South Sea pearls, and some Japanese Akoya pearls. We will be showcasing all three types of pearls in both strands and loose form. We cover a wide range of qualities, but the majority of our stock is in the medium to higher range.
Some examples of the special pieces we will be showing at CARAT+ 2018 are:
>> Fine quality, long (double length) strands in graduated colours from dark to grey, and from white to cream to gold.
>> Tahitian multi-coloured baroque strands at affordable price points.
>> Tahitian, South Sea and Akoya round pairs.
Examples of pearls offered by CARAT+ exhibitor Anmol Gems.
Q: CARAT+ is a specialist diamond event, but feedback from buyers revealed that an exceptional selection of precious gemstones and pearls would be advantageous. What do you hope to achieve at CARAT+ in May?
SS: I decided to participate in CARAT+ for several reasons: it is in Antwerp, which makes it convenient; the timing in early May also makes it easier as it doesn’t coincide with other shows in other markets that we participate in; and most of all, I am hoping it will attract a large number of retailers and jewellers who are likely to have demand for product other than diamonds.
If we can leave the show with even a few new prospective pearl buyers, it will be a win. For us, trade shows have probably been the most cost-effective way to find and secure new customers. And as we are likely to be one of the only companies specialising in pearls at CARAT+, we hope this will generate curiosity and bring added attention to our booth!
Q: What are the opportunities in the European market for Tahitian and South Sea cultured pearls? How do you hope to take advantage of this at CARAT+?
SS: I think there is a great opportunity in the European Tahitian and South Sea pearl market at the moment. Many of the traditional wholesalers from western and southern Europe have left the business over the last several years and many have downsized drastically. I believe there is still a healthy demand for pearls in Europe, which provides a good chance for a new player to capture market share.
Being a wholesaler from Japan, we have great direct sources from whom we buy our pearls. We have the expertise to process, polish, and sort pearls. Crucially, our office in Antwerp provides us with the infrastructure to bring these pearls to European customers both quickly and economically.
Q: What trends do you see in jewellery designs featuring Tahitian and South Sea cultured pearls?
SS: Pearl jewellery has historically been very conservative and simple - very classic. Although a market will always remain for classic pearl jewellery, over the past several years we have seen a big shift into trendier and ‘fun’ pearl jewellery.
The younger generation doesn’t want to wear a single pearl strand or pearl stud earrings. They want customised designs. They want pearl ropes (long strands) that can be manipulated to be worn in multiple, individualised ways. And pearls are also being used a lot more with diamonds and coloured gemstones. The great thing about pearls is that they can add volume to jewellery pieces without a large additional cost.
Compared to diamonds and coloured stones, pearls are very inexpensive and yet provide a ‘grand’ look.
Discover more about Anmol Gems Ltd
CARAT+ is The World’s Premier Diamond Event, covering the full spectrum of the diamond and diamond jewellery trades. The show specialises in four sectors: loose diamonds, branded diamond jewellery, non-branded diamond jewellery and services for the diamond jewellery industry.
Taking place in Hall 1 and Hall 4 of the Antwerp Expo on 6, 7 and 8 May, entry to the show is restricted exclusively to industry professionals, including diamond and jewellery wholesalers and manufacturers from around the world, and jewellery retailers from across Europe and the wider world.