CPAA & MVI Release 2021 Benchmark Study of Consumer Preferences for Pearls


The Cultured Pearl Association of America (CPAA) and MVI Marketing LLC (THE MVEye), a market research and strategic consulting firm for the global gem, jewelry, and watch industries, teamed up to survey consumers on cultured pearls and pearl jewelry.

The Benchmark Study of Consumer Preferences for Pearls is the first major U.S. consumer study that focuses on cultured pearls and will serve as a benchmark for future market research.

CPAA engaged MVI to conduct the independent consumer market research survey to assess current consumer preferences and likely behavior related to cultured pearls and cultured pearl jewelry. The objective was to identify consumer shopping and buying patterns related to cultured pearls and pearl jewelry and ascertain differences among various demographics to identify opportunities for the pearl industry.

The survey was deployed July 19–24, 2021, and was completed by 1,012 jewelry consumers who purchased at least $200 of fine jewelry in the past three years. The makeup consists of U.S. jewelry consumers who are ages 25–55, 73% female and 27% male, have household incomes greater than $50,000, are 27% single and 63% married, 10% engaged or getting engaged, and 73% white, 9% black/African American, 9% Asian, 6% LatinX.


Highlights show that pearls are already a consumer favorite, including that:

Pearls Rank Among the Top Gems that consumers have purchased and would purchase as a gift for someone or themselves and are in good company with sapphire, ruby, and emerald, after diamond.

Pearl Ownership Is Strong across demographics, as most jewelry consumers surveyed (66%) own at least one pearl jewel. Of those, 69% own a stand, 62% pearl earrings.

Pearls Are a Testament to Timelessness given that 65% of pearl jewelry owners have at least one family heirloom among their pearl pieces.

Pearls are a Popular Purchase, as 46% of jewelry consumers surveyed report pearls are a popular self or gift purchase across demographics.

Pearls Are Popular Birthday and Anniversary Gifts, as 52% of consumers who have purchased or received pearl jewelry in the past three years say that is was for a birthday, 46% for an anniversary—two occasions that someone is celebrating every day of the year.

Consumers aged 25–35 especially consider pearls to be a top gem to give, receive, and self-purchase. Plus, younger consumers are inspiring two trends that speak to pearls’ broad appeal: men in pearls and pearl engagement rings. Men aged 25–45, in particular, embrace pearls: 42%–47% versus 16% of men aged 46–55.
Another 28% of jewelry consumers say “yes” and 43% “maybe” to considering pearl as a center gem for an engagement ring. The youngest demographic, ages 25–35, is on board, with 36% responding “yes” and 40% “maybe.”

Pearls’ Sustainability Story Holds the Key to Cultivation Education, providing the perfect entrée to discuss the process. While the survey reveals high awareness of cultured pearls, with 81% of consumers having heard the term, only 34% know what it means. The story of responsibly cultured pearls is one of a renewable resource that not only contributes to the health of the marine environment, but also helps to sustain families in remote communities. Data revealed that 60% of consumers were unaware that pearls are sustainable. The stories of pearl cultivation and pearl as a sustainable gem are intertwined.

The Bottom Line, the pearl trade does not have to sell consumers on cultured pearls because they already like, have, and desire them. Invest in the product, carry a wider selection, and take time to talk and post about what makes pearls the perfect gift to give, receive, and buy for oneself.

The survey is the cover story of the August issue of CPAA’s #thisispearl magazine. Click here to read it. Or download the entire survey here for free using the coupon code cpaamveye100.