WEBINAR – DANAT Jewellery Outlook webinar underlines extraordinary rarity of natural pearls



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By David Brough

A webinar by the Bahrain Institute for Pearls and Gemstones (DANAT) highlighted the extreme rarity of natural pearls, auguring for steady to firmer prices in future.

The webinar by DANAT gemmologist Zainab Mohammed, streamed to hundreds of trade professionals around the world on April 8, revealed that just 0.2 percent of pearls are natural, while the remainder are cultured.

“Considering the rarity of these pearls, they are worth searching for,” Zainab said.

“That is why people from Bahrain have always dived for these pearls and wear them in their jewellery.”

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In some areas of Bahrain, populated with about 30 molluscs per square metre, for pearls measuring 3 mm or more, about one pearl is found for every 370 molluscs.

About 7 kg of natural pearls are fished every year from Bahraini waters.

The pollution of the world’s oceans is accentuating the rarity of natural pearls, Zainab said.

She said the rarity of natural pearls would underpin their value.

“I believe that prices (of natural pearls) will be steady or increase a bit,” she said, looking around a year ahead.

In high-value jewellery auctions around the world, the prices of antique jewellery featuring natural pearls have risen significantly, a reflection of their rarity.

A pearl and diamond pendant once owned by ill-fated French Queen Marie-Antoinette sold for a record price for a natural pearl of $36 million at a Sotheby’s sale in Geneva in November 2018.

In the Jewellery Outlook webinar, Zainab outlined the history of pearl fishing in Bahrain, noting that natural pearl revenues decreased sharply in the 1930s, coinciding with the introduction of cultured pearls from Japan, the discovery of oil in the Arabian Gulf, and the Great Depression.

The DANAT gemmologist also revealed some exquisite pieces of pearl jewellery, including a necklace of 779 graduated pearls that belongs to the Abdul Razak collection, and the Cascade of Dreams, comprising 1,970 natural pearls weighing 1,140.99 carats.