9 Jun 2003

Black pearl price in French Polynesia plummets

3:25 pm on 9 June 2003

Black pearl prices in French Polynesia have registered a massive fall at the United Pearl Producer's fair in Papeete.

"The president of the Poe Rava Nui company, Alfred Martin , says the price per gram has plummeted to under 12 US dollars which is a fall of more than a third in five months."

Mr Martin says compared with the prices fetched a few years ago, black pearl prices are down by 80 percent.

He says in an unprecedented development, more than half of the quarter million pearls on offer failed to sell.

One producer says despite government efforts to impose quality controls there is a parallel trade between foreign buyers and local producers that bypasses the official auctions and evades the export tax.

Black pearl farming is French Polynesia's second biggest income earner after tourism and provides about 10-thousand jobs.