The beginning of this month saw the Pearl Commission’s Pre-Congress Steering Committee Meeting. On the agenda was what CIBJO (The World Jewellery Confederation) called their “greatest challenge”: the unemployment of accurate terminology. More specifically the misuse of the word ‘natural’ and omittance of the word ‘cultured’ in online and hard copy marketing for pearl jewellery.
It appears to be a trend that has probably been manifested or at least further inflated by the popularity of marketing via social media. It is all too easy to promote your latest offering on Twitter or Instagram but care must still be taken to avoid deceptive product descriptions. CIBJO’s Pearl Commission work hard to maintain an accurate nomenclature and to educate not only the trade but the wider community as well.
Cultured pearls can either be dyed or have a ‘natural colour’. However, there are companies that are promoting these pearls as ‘natural’. Those who are well educated about pearls will know that ‘natural’ pearls are extremely rare and therefore are afforded a much higher price point. So it is disappointing to see the end customer misled in this way. Similarly, if a pearl is cultured, i.e. has been farmed, it must be called just that: a cultured pearl. By calling it natural, pearl sellers again are being incredibly disingenuous.
The Pearl Commission’s Special Report can be downloaded here and explains how they try to educate and encourage correct terminology throughout the jewellery industry through the publication of their Blue Books – and more specifically, The Pearl Book.