09/07/2008 - 22:00

Pearl gallery offers more than high-end shopping

09/07/2008 - 22:00

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Although boutiques such as Tiffany's and Gucci have descended on King Street, the inner-city strip is about a lot more than gold, glitter and luxury.

Pearl gallery offers more than high-end shopping

Although boutiques such as Tiffany's and Gucci have descended on King Street, the inner-city strip is about a lot more than gold, glitter and luxury.

Among the purveyors of top-end jewellery are those who also see their role as to educate their customers about the history of the products they sell.

Located at the Wellington Street end of King Street, the Western Australian Pearl Gallery has developed a new concept that combines classic pearl jewellery with education about the pearl industry.

The shop's design includes large panels retracing the history of pearl farming industry in Western Australia, and has a plasma screen to play DVDs about the industry.

The gallery targets middle to high-end customers, with prices ranging from a few hundred dollars up to $30,000.

Partner in the Western Australian Pearl Gallery Pty Ltd, Sandy Lee, said the location of the shop provided a great opportunity for the specialist retailer to focus on CBD commuters, but also to target tourists by developing the educational element of its business.

"We mainly promote WA pearls and on top of that we want to show the history, the culture of pearl farming," Mrs Lee told Business Class.

"A lot of people come to WA, especially from the east coast, and really want to look at Broome pearls...but while a majority of the pearl farmers are in Broome and the industry originated in Broome, the general market thinks that only Broome produces pearls. But pearl farming now goes all the way down to Geraldton, which is part of the information that we display here.

"If you were a tourist, you would want to have a look.

"Some people just come in for the history and walk straight to the panels, it's about half-half."

According to Mrs Lee, the shop was especially looking to attract Japanese tourists, who are known to be big buyers of pearls.

The regulated WA pearl industry, as opposed to the Japanese pearl industry, means that farmers are not allowed to collect the pearls before they reach a minimum size of nine millimetres.

Pearls ranking between nine and 20 millimetres are more common in WA, while the biggest Japanese pearls are about 10 millimetres.

However, Mrs Lee said the store's first few months had been more difficult than expected as the Australian dollar got stronger and notably fewer Japanese tourists travelled to Australia.

"There haven't been many tourists because of the strong currency but we haven't traded in the busy summer season yet," she said.

Most of the jewellery pieces showcased are designed by Northbridge-based pearl jewellery design business Jacque Cyrille, using Kalgoorlie gold and Argyle diamonds.

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