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Japan Kasumi pearls… unravelling the mystery!

Japan Kasumi pearls… unravelling the mystery!
There has been a lot of buzz about Japan Kasumi pearls in the last couple of years. The internet is teeming with pearl dealers claiming to be selling these rare fresh water pearls from Japan for pennies on the dollar , or yen as the case may be. I have fielded countless inquiries from confused pearl owners , as well as frustrated appraisers.
I start by asking them a series of questions:

  1. What year were these pearls purchased?
  2. What was the price paid?
  3. Do you have the original invoice?
  4. Can I see photos of the pearls?

Here is an example of what I get:

Here is my response to one such puzzled and extremely diligent appraiser concerning this strand shown above, and its original sales slip from 2008.

While these Chinese fresh water pearls were quite interesting for their shape and size at the time… they are clearly from China and not from Japan Kasumi at all. I have never seen Japan Kasumi pearls in these shapes, and certainly not an entire strand of them. The price paid is another factor. $1700 would barely cover their cost of production in JAPAN, much less the markup, gold and rubies!  The current value of this Chinese fresh water baroque pearl strand today is approximately $500. Chinese pearl producers have flooded the market, diminishing not only the value of their own pearls, but the perceived value of pearls in general.

Meanwhile back on the Japanese pearl farm at Lake Kasumi ga Ura.. the three farmers continue to grow a sustainable amount of pearls and the prices hold relatively steady

You will also kindly take note,  that the invoice reads KASUMIGA pearls.. the term “kasumiga” was for many years a trademarked and somewhat “catchy” name. What customers were buying were “branded” pearls.. there was never proof that they were actually from the Japanese lake, because the branded, trademarked name acted as a fail safe. (i.e. it is entirely possible that the pearls being sold as KASUMIGA were in fact Chinese pearls or a gentle mix of the two). This catchy trademarked name stuck with many uninformed pearl buyers and has been used ever since to describe all matter of pearls, mostly Chinese in almost any color or size, nucleated or not.

Pearls of wisdom: Unravelling the complex world 
of appraising pearls

Here is a link to an article by Gina D’Onofrio from www.JewelryBusiness.com that we contributed some photos and information about Japan Kasumi pearls to.