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Money may not grow on trees, but it does grow in oysters. In fact, “profit from pearls” is the message Kathy Grenier, Director of Marketing, of the Cultured Pearl Association of America (CPAA), would like to spread about this always-in-fashion, lustrous gemstone. “Cultured pearls offer more value, profit and price stability than most any other jewelry in the market today,” she says. “The majority of the cost is in the pearl and not metal, which is why we believe that cultured pearls is a jewelers answer in today’s market climate.” And, there’s no better time to promote pearls than June. Here, Grenier tells us why in this exclusive interview with DPA.



DPA: As you know, many retailers are proceeding with caution, concentrating on diamonds, the bread-and–butter basics of their business, and not willing to invest in merchandise they can’t sell. So why pearls and why now?

Kathy Grenier: If you’re out scouting around for ideas on how to improve your bottom line, there’s no better time for cultured pearls than now. “Profit from pearls” is our unique selling proposition, because we see firsthand that jewelers who commit to this product category succeed. Creating a clearly defined niche in cultured pearls will set you apart from your competition with a product that is on fashion trend, while still embodying classic qualities that offer great value for the consumer.

DPA: But why now? We know that pearls are the June birthstone and make good grad gifts, but summer is also prime wedding season. Does this open up opportunities for pearls?

KG: Yes. Brides and pearls are synonymous and savvy retailers will engage with and build a relationship with that bride. Some retailers are content to sell the engagement ring and that’s it. But others see more possibilities in the wedding category.

DPA: So can you give us some examples?

KG: It all starts with the jeweler, guiding and helping that bridal customer shine on her special day—and that includes the attendants and the mothers of the bride and groom who will also be shopping for jewelry. So initiating the conversation and spending time helping the bridal party choose their accessories can pay off in more sales.

DPA: Are there trends in wedding jewelry that might help clinch a sale?

KG: Yes. In earrings three looks are trending. Diamonds and pearls are a traditional combination. We’re also seeing more intricate, vintage-inspired looks. And because of the popularity of off-the-shoulder bridal gowns, drop earrings that have length and swing are also popular with brides. This can be something as simple and elegant as a big white baroque pearl on a wire or as ornate as a cascade of graduated pearls and diamonds. And because every bride will be looking for that something blue, you can show her earrings, a bracelet, or a necklace with pearls and sapphires or other blue gemstones.

DPA: What about the rest of the bridal party?

KG: For those planning on spending, $100 to $200 on bridesmaids gifts, cultured pearl studs are very nice. And don’t forget the groom: Pearls are a traditional gift for the groom to give the bride. It doesn’t have to be a strand, but something that reflects her personality that can be worn more often, like that single pearl earring on a wire.

DPA: CPPA has a new educational program designed to show jewelers how their business can stand out and profit from pearls. Can you tell us more about that?

KG: We’re launching a free online education series later this summer where jewelers and their staff can get certified. And we’ve broken it down into retail-friendly situations, including how to display and care for them.

DPA: That’s exciting, but in the meantime, bottom line: What makes a customer-friendly pearl display?

KG: In order to create an interesting showcase, you want to tell a story. Begin by arranging complimentary or companion pieces together; this helps your customers envision style options that can be worn together now or later, which can bring them back for that future purchase. You can still display single, unrelated pieces, but highlight them to reflect their uniqueness.


Shown: Mikimoto pearl necklace (photo courtesy of  Couture Show 2016)