No lus­tre in treated pearls

The Sunday Times - - News - FLEUR BAINGER

CUS­TOMERS risk pay­ing top dol­lar for im­ported pearls that have been treated with chem­i­cals, a WA pearl farmer says.

Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm man­ag­ing di­rec­tor James Brown is work­ing with two uni­ver­si­ties to cre­ate in­de­pen­dent cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for Aus­tralian pearls, with hopes the tech­nol­ogy will be ready to­wards the end of next year.

Mr Brown says treat­ing pearls with bleach and dye is a com­mon and ac­cepted prac­tice in­ter­na­tion­ally, but it’s rarely dis­closed to cus­tomers.

“We want con­sumers to de­mand to know if what they’re buy­ing is what they think it is,” he said. “We want peo­ple pas­sion­ate about Aus­tralian prod­ucts say­ing, ‘I’m not buy­ing un­less I get that’.”

At the In­ter­na­tional Jew­ellery Fair in Syd­ney last month, Mr Brown an­nounced plans to bring trans­parency to the pearl trade, pro­vid­ing re­as­sur­ance to cus­tomers. He hopes it will bring bet­ter re­turns for Aus­tralian pro­duc­ers, who are com­pet­ing with cheaper, treated prod­ucts.

“If we can’t cre­ate more value from th­ese rare, high­qual­ity prod­ucts, what’s the long-term fu­ture for Aus­tralian pearls?” he said.

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