Freshwater pearls, though they enjoy great popularity right now, are actually experiencing a “glut” in the marketplace. Inexpensive freshwater pearls are abundant, and unless they’re paired with gemstones and gold or platinum, their profit margins are quite low. So if you enjoy pearls and want them to be part of your jewelry offerings, how do you make a substantial profit?
Step 1: Research your wholesale jewelry sources.
Always compare prices. Make sure you have a reseller’s license in your state and a valid tax ID. Many reputable wholesalers will only do business with buyers that have both documents. Remember to check places like Tuesday Morning, TJ Maxx, and other off-price retailers for finished, clearance pearl jewelry. Also check Overstock.com’s bulk item/wholesale jewelry department for some outstanding pearl jewelry. Another bonus to using off price retailers is that you can return the items if they don’t sell.
TIP: Disregard the “MSRP” or “Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price”. These are almost always highly inflated – especially in the pearl market. Always research what pearl jewelry is selling for in the market you plan to sell in (such as eBay, Yahoo Auctions etc.)
Step 2: Choose your pearls carefully.
As freshwater pearls are not enjoying a very high profit margin, consider switching to Akoya (saltwater cultured pearls from Japan and China) – especially those that have AA or AAA grading or higher. The initial cost is higher, however graded Akoya pearls command higher prices and hold their value far longer. Tahitian and South Sea pearls are very costly, but command even higher retail prices.
If you don’t want to invest in Akoya, Tahitian or South Sea pearls for resale, then choose freshwater pearls that are very round and have excellent luminosity. High quality pearls, freshwater or salt water, almost glow from within. High quality freshwater pears will be graded on the “5 virtues”.
– Natural luster (the pearl’s apparent luminosity)
– Complexion (smoothness of the surface)
– Color (natural color – before dying)
Reputable jewelry and pearl wholesalers will have information on all 5 virtues so that you can judge the value of your purchase. Don’t buy pearls without that information when the market is this competitive.
Step 3: Minimize your costs.
How crafty are you? If you have the skill, and more time than money, consider stringing pearls yourself and creating your own simple pearl earrings. Loose drilled pearls are far less expensive than completed strings of pearls. However, stringing pearls is very time consuming and labor-intensive. It isn’t a terribly hard skill to learn, but it will take practice. Develop a good eye for matching color, shape and size. Create multicolor pearl necklaces and then you don’t have to match color. Use high quality silk thread only – cheaper thread results in a cheaper look and poor resilience of the strand.
Earrings, particularly pearl studs, are quite simple to make and the glue, 14kt gold posts and other supplies are very easy to find online – even on eBay. (Remember, buying your supplies on eBay can boost your feedback score.)
Step 4: Take high quality pictures of your pearl jewelry.
Invest in a good light tent and proper lighting. Poor lighting makes pearls look terrible. There are excellent tutorials on photographing jewelry and pearls, so practice and don’t be afraid to take loads of pictures to get the image just right.
Step 5: Choose your venue or sales outlet.
Selling pearl jewelry on eBay is very simple, however, completed auctions are lower than they have been, so explore other avenues. If you have particularly high-end pearl jewelry to sell, consider listing it in your local newspaper, “Thrifty Nickel”, or even Craigslist. Also, Yahoo Auctions site is “up and coming” and offering several incentives to get business away from eBay. Use proper packaging and presentation materials for the pearl jewelry you sell. Presenting a beautiful pearl ring in it’s wholesaler’s plastic bag doesn’t inspire confidence in your buyers.
Finally, educate your customers on how to care for their pearls. Most jewelry wholesale sites have excellent education material on storing, cleaning, and wearing pearl jewelry.