Japanese Cultured Pearls after WWII

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See part 1 of our post here: Grandmother’s Graduated Pearls

Can’t get enough of those Japanese cultured pearls!

Despite the fact that the cultured pearl trade was severely damaged by World War II, after the war, the industry boomed. Demand was high and competition was low. Both the U.S. and many countries in Europe were loving the Japanese cultured pearls. The production of cultured pearls increased through the 1950s and 1960s and life was good.

But, sometimes, good things come to an end (or at least they have a low thrown in with that high!). Suddenly, in the 1960s, the supply of Japanese akoya pearls exceeded the demand. Prices bottomed out and cultured pearl companies went bankrupt.

So, here comes the regulations! In the 1970s the Japanese government stepped in to bring the pearl market in balance. By 1972 prices stabilized and the good years began again. The pearl market thrived in the 1980s and 1990s.

In the 1990s a mysterious disease swept through akoya pearl oyster populations. It killed many oysters. This epidemic was devastating to the pearl industry and acts as a great reminder of how unpredictable this business truly is.

Now, the Japanese are involved in both the import and export business. The Japanese export about 18-20 tons of akoya pearls a year. They also import South Sea, Tahitian, and Chinese akoya cultured pearls which are sold in Japan as well as exported.

Japan Imports and Exports Pearls

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2 Replies to “Japanese Cultured Pearls after WWII”

  1. I just inherited a pearl necklace, lapel pin and an earring. It looks like the clasp, pin, and earring setting are white gold. The earring has a screw back that says 20-12K Gold filled. They are in a beautiful white/ cream box with a large star surrounded by small stars on the top of the box. Inside it says Cultured Pearls by Milano. I also have the guarantee certificate stating it is from the Milano Manufacturing Company of Chicago, IL.. My father purchased them for my grandmother while in the Army 1961-1966. I would like to have the necklace re-strung, but don’t want to ruin any value. I also would like to try to replace the missing earring. Any suggestions? Thank you

    1. Hi Rayanna! Thanks so much for reaching out! I just had someone else with a question about restringing pearls and ruining their value. It is hard to imagine how this could ever be possible. Restringing a strand of pearls will only increase the value. There is no value in dirty, worn out knots or stretched out silk. Over time, the dirts and oils that get into the silk thread can wear down your pearls. Even if someone does a horrible job on reknotting pearls that still will not decrease the value of the pearls. I would argue the value of the pearls are in the pearls themselves. The value can also be in how well matched the pearls are in a piece of jewelry but as long as you still have your pearls, you will retain the value that those pearls hold.
      So, I think you can only improve the look and condition of your new-to-you pearls by reknotting the strand. As for your one earring, You could try to match an earring or it would be lovely if you turned the earring into a ring. Just an idea if the earring is difficult to replicate.
      Let me know if I can help you out!
      Best,
      India

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