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Pearl Power
Now that pearls are part of the dress code from local malls to charity balls, jewelers are turning their stores into pearl centers


Four blocks away from GIA's old Santa Monica campus, Joe Boiadjian, the new owner of Yale Jewelers, is hatching a revitalization plan to keep old patrons and make new ones. Believing the queen of gems is just as essential to his customers at all stages and ages of life as the king of gems, he intends to make his store as much a pearl as a diamond center.

Toward that end, he's stocking everything from stud earrings for teens to stately necklaces for their mothers and grandmothers. "I can't think of a gem that provides more excuses to be in a jewelry store than the pearl," Boiadjian says. That's why he now aims to make Yale's a pearl purchaser's paradise.

It's easy to do, says Peter Bazar, president of Imperial-Deltah in East Providence, Rhode Island: "There are styles from $100 to $20,000—and every critical price point in between. Pearls fit every dress code from black tie to blue jeans."

Given such versatility, it is hardly surprising to find that after 10 months of ownership, pearls now account for nearly 20 percent of Boiadjian's sales—up from 5 percent when he took over last December. "It's nice to hear customers tell me, 'I've never seen so many pearls in this store,' or 'Your pearl selection is fabulous,'" he continues.

Further, Boiadjian finds, pearls are a very affordable way for a neighborhood jeweler like himself to offer depth and breadth of selection in enough ways to appeal to widely divergent incomes, needs, and tastes. And he can charge prices that allow him margins which dwarf those of diamonds.

But here's the kicker. "If people start to identify you with pearls, they start to think of your store as fashion forward," Boiadjian says. "You can't get a better image."

Suddenly, pearls are a sure, shining path to everything from prosperity to prestige. Suddenly, this organic gem comes in so many colors, shapes, and sizes that it offers the greatest range of identity and fashion statements of any gem—for the mainstreamer and the maverick, the formal and the funky, the prim and proper as well as the free and easy.

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Chinese freshwater pearls continue to improve in quality and luster. Chinese freshwater pearl strands from China Pearl, (626) 799-9500.
Multicolor Tahitian cultured pearl strand from Elyria
The increase in multi-colors and multi-shades has boosted the pearl's designer appeal. Multicolor Tahitian cultured pearl strand from Elyria, (415) 674-1406.
Sea pearls from the Stuller & Paspaley collection
Beyond the strand towards a more youthful approach: South Sea pearls mix and match with colored neck wires and gemstones from the Stuller & Paspaley collection, (800) 877-7777.
pearl earrings from Imperial-Deltah
Pearls fit any occasion, from black tie to blue jeans. Pearl earrings and pendant from Imperial-Deltah, (800) 556-7738.
pearl necklace by Imperial-Deltah
necklaces by King Plutarco
Stocking an inventory of pearl oriented designs for the "younger" generation is key. Fashionable "Y" necks by King Plutarco, (213) 624-3077.
gold ring with diamonds and pearls by Shinju Pearl
Multicolor pearl jewelry that mixes pearls of all origins and colors has become a category in its own right. Ring in 18k gold with diamonds and pearls by Shinju Pearl, (888) MY-PEARL.
Tahitian cultured pearl jewelry from Baggins
There has been more emphasis on jewelry design in the pearl world. Tahitian cultured pearl jewelry from Baggins, (213) 624-2277. Photo by John Parrish.
© John Parrish


Rick Little
Rick Little, owner of Aspen Jewelers, Herndon, Virginia, stocks a complete pearl department—and even promotes the category for men by wearing his own strand.