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Add Some Luster to Your Store
Retailers share their pearl selling secrets.


Pearls have always been a classic symbol of beauty, sophistication, and glamour. But today’s wide array of pearl varieties and colors, as well as the amazing creativity of jewelry designs featuring these lustrous orbs, have also made pearls a symbol of fashion that women of all ages and lifestyles can wear with every look and for every occasion.

For retailers, however, selling pearls can often be a challenge—after all, customers typically don’t know nearly as much about the origin, varieties, and features of pearls as they do about diamonds. And training salespeople to “get” pearls and sell them well is no easy task. So when a customer walks through your store, how likely is it that they will be drawn to your pearl selection?

But you can create higher interest and bigger sales of pearls in your store, pearl savvy retailers say—it just takes some time, effort, and creativity to build some powerful pearl excitement.

Kimberly Adams Russell, president of Frank Adams Jewelers in Albany, New York, says the key to pearl selling success is a creative and passionate staff. “You need to have the ability to turn the classic strand of pearls into a wardrobe essential that offers fashion, elegance, and tradition all in one piece of jewelry,” she says.

Carrying a wide selection is also a key factor, notes Kathy Grenier, marketing and public relations manager at the Cultured Pearl Association of America. “You need to have a variety for the customer to select from,” she says. Then you can add an element of the unexpected, a piece that will make people notice your pearl case even if they don’t buy that particular item. “It spices things up a little,” she says. “They may pay attention to it and buy something ‘pearl’ as a result.”

But no matter what, say successful retailers, knowing your product is absolutely essential. “You have to do your homework,” says John Anthony Jr. of John Anthony Jewelers, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. “You need to learn the difference in the type, shape, color, and origin of the pearls you are dealing with, as well as the types of pearls and color that go with styles and hair color and clothing.”

These retailers warn their peers not to fall into the old myth that pearls are worn only for weddings or only on Sunday. “Pearls are for dress, work, and fun,” says Adams. “They are one of the most versatile pieces of luxury anyone could own.”

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Freshwater pearl necklace with 18k rose gold and diamonds
Freshwater pearl necklace with 18k rose gold and diamonds from a new collection by Tri-Gem Pearls, suggested retail $36,000, (800) 422-0022.
Sterling silver ring with enhanced freshwater pearls
Sterling silver ring with enhanced freshwater pearls from Imperial, suggested retail $145, (800) 556-7738.
AKOYA pearl

Pearl Cheat Sheet
AKOYA: Can’t-Miss Classic

Akoyas are what every girl imagines when she thinks of pearls—classic and elegant, graceful and impeccable. Think Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Jacqueline Onassis.

Origin: Akoyas are cultured in ocean oysters, the saltwater Pinctada fucata oyster species to be precise. Akoyas are grown on Japanese, and now Chinese, pearl farms. On average, akoyas tend to be slightly larger than freshwater pearls, ranging from 2-10mm.

Lifestyle: Akoyas work for any woman who wants a classic, clean, sophisticated look. More conservative consumers will immediately be drawn to akoyas, but these pearls are also surprisingly versatile and can be dressed up as well as down. They’re perfect for the office, an after-work event, and to add some glamour to a casual weekend outfit.

Fashion: Try a strand of akoyas with a little black dress, skinny jeans, and a high-quality T-shirt, your favorite pantsuit, or this summer’s wide array of sundresses.

FRESHWATER pearl

Pearl Cheat Sheet
FRESHWATER: The Flavor of Fashion

Large, lustrous and especially rare, South Sea pearls are sure to bring to mind wealth, celebrity, and sophisticated glamour. Think Uma Thurman and Halle Berry.

Origin: The Pinctada maxima oyster grows these extra-large pearls in the warm waters of Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, and Thailand. They range from 9-20mm and colors include silver, white, and gold.

Lifestyle: South Seas are meant to make a statement, but in a classy, highly sophisticated way. The confident woman who doesn’t shy away from being the center of attention will be drawn to these beautiful pearls—but if a woman wants a South Sea pearl piece that is still appropriate for everyday wear, a bold ring or pendant will do the trick.

Fashion: A can’t-miss strand of South Sea pearls will be all she needs to accompany a gown or cocktail dress, but a ring with a solitary South Sea pearl is a bold accompaniment to a work outfit and a pair of drop earrings set in platinum can dress up anything she puts together.

SOUTH SEA pearl

Pearl Cheat Sheet
SOUTH SEA: High-End Glamour

Large, lustrous and especially rare, South Sea pearls are sure to bring to mind wealth, celebrity, and sophisticated glamour. Think Uma Thurman and Halle Berry.

Origin: The Pinctada maxima oyster grows these extra-large pearls in the warm waters of Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, and Thailand. They range from 9-20mm and colors include silver, white, and gold.

Lifestyle: South Seas are meant to make a statement, but in a classy, highly sophisticated way. The confident woman who doesn’t shy away from being the center of attention will be drawn to these beautiful pearls—but if a woman wants a South Sea pearl piece that is still appropriate for everyday wear, a bold ring or pendant will do the trick.

Fashion: A can’t-miss strand of South Sea pearls will be all she needs to accompany a gown or cocktail dress, but a ring with a solitary South Sea pearl is a bold accompaniment to a work outfit and a pair of drop earrings set in platinum can dress up anything she puts together.

TAHITIAN pearl

Pearl Cheat Sheet
TAHITIAN: Dazzling Drama

For the woman who wants to stand out from the crowd—in the best way possible—there is probably nothing more dramatically beautiful than the exotic hues of a Tahitian pearl. Think Elizabeth Taylor (who owns one of the largest Tahitians in the world). Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also wears a strand of multicolor Tahitian cultured pearls.

Origin: Tahitian pearls are grown in the Pinctada margaritifera oyster species and are found throughout the warm ocean lagoons of French Polynesia. Also large, they range from 8-18mm in size. Peacock is the most popular Tahitian pearl color, but they also come in varied hues of black, gray, silver, taupe, green, and eggplant. Strands with mixed colors are fashionable too.

Lifestyle: Tahitian pearls make a serious statement, so a conservative consumer looking to blend in may not be the target customer. But any woman who wants something both extraordinary and out of the ordinary will appreciate its special beauty.

Fashion: A pair of Tahitian and diamond earrings will create a stunning effect against a black cocktail dress; but a ring or pendant will also add a sense of confidence and unique style to a neutral-colored suit or a pair of black pants and a white shirt.