AUCTION RAKES IN $3 MILLION FOR TAHITI PEARLS

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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Nov. 22) – French Polynesia Perliculture Minister Michel Yip said he was very satisfied with Wednesday's international auction that sold 75 percent of the 230,000 Tahitian cultured pearls offered, with the average price per pearl rising 23 percent.

The auction sold 173,100 of the 230,000 loose pearls put up for sale in 170 lots by several local GIEs, or economic interest groups—Poe Rava Nui, Te Poe o Tahiti Nui, Te Poe Black Pearl and Tahiti Rava Rava Pearl. They represent some 30 local pearl producers.

The 173,100 pearls sold for 261 million French Pacific francs [US$3.3 million] during the auction held at the Sheraton Hotel Tahiti Resort & Spa.

The buyers were local and from overseas.

What was originally scheduled as a two-day auction ended up as a one-day event.

The average price per gram of pearls sold during the auction reached 1,600 French Pacific francs [US$20].

That was a 23 percent increase from the pre-auction average selling price of 1,300 French Pacific francs [US$16].

The auction occurred as the exchange rate for the U.S. dollar was at its lowest value since 1980. That meant overseas buyers with U.S. dollars had to spend much less to buy a lot of Tahitian pearls, which were priced in French Pacific francs.

Meanwhile, the ministry announced plans to organize two more international pearl auctions like this one next year.

According to the Perliculture Ministry, the aim of Wednesday's auction was to help local and overseas buyers who do not or cannot participate in international Tahitian pearl auctions held in Hong Kong and Kobe during the year.

One big difference between this auction and the many international auctions held in previous years was the pearl producer's right to propose a lower price for a lot if there were no buyers for their original higher, minimum price.

Although there were lots that went unsold Wednesday, none of the producers lowered their original lot price.

"We could have sold up to 90 percent of the pearls," the Perliculture Minister said.

Meanwhile, the 7th Poe Rava Nui Auction will be held in Hong Kong from Dec. 4-5, with the GIE Poe Rava Nui selling Tahitian cultured pearls produced by its members in French Polynesia.

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