Analysis and Studies - Products analysis

Pearls: import and export

Pearls are the oldest gem and have been worn for millennia: the first official traces as an adornment were found in the sarcophagus of a Persian princess, dating back to 420 BC.                                                          They were considered one of the most precious natural materials by many cultures including Romans, Chinese, Greeks, Egyptians and they were assigned great meaning and associated with myths.  Due to their rarity, natural pearls were not easily affordable and in many cultures were a symbol of a high status: only in the 20th century they became more accessible, when in Japan the cultured pearls industry was launched, by developing a method to make oysters produce them on demand.

In 2022, pearls were the world's 980th most traded product, with a total trade of $796M and between 2021 and 2022 the exports saw an increase of 17.2% (going from $679M to $796M).

In 2022 the country which exported pearls the most was Japan with a trade of $211M, ahead of China ($101M), Indonesia (96.3M), Australia ($79.8M) and French Polynesia ($64.6M). Whereas the top importer was Hong Kong with a trade of $290M, followed by Japan ($151M), United States ($69.5M), China ($60.9M), and Australia ($37.2M).


These dynamics emphasize the interconnected nature of regional economies, as we can see through the significant trade between countries in the Asia-Pacific region.  Hong Kong and Japan are confirmed as major destinations: most of the countries in the graphic exports with a high percentage to them.

It’s interesting to see that some of these countries are both important exporters and importers. Moreover, China's and Australia’s markets seem to be the most diversified, with China revealing a strategic approach in order not to be dependent on any single market and be vulnerable to specific economic shifts.

Even though it doesn’t have any high percentage, the United States consistently appears as a significant destination across all countries, highlighting its role as a global trade partner.

  1. Japan (26.6%): 73.6% Hong Kong, 9.45% United States, 4.31% Macau, 3.3% Thailand, 1.76% India, 1.31% China, 0.14% Australia
  2. China (12.6%): 39.8% Hong Kong, 17.3% India, 6.98% United States, 6.77% Italy, 5.28% Thailand, 5.14% China, 3.78% Japan, 0.39% Australia
  3. Indonesia (12.1%): 52.5% Japan, 22.5% Australia, 17% Hong Kong, 3.51% United States, 1.18% Thailand, 0.92% China
  4. Australia (10%): 46.4% Japan, 14.5% Australia, 11.8% Hong Kong, 10.5% United States, 8.5% China, 3.98% Thailand
  5. French Polynesia (8.12%):47.4% Hong Kong, 33.5% Japan. 5.72% United States, 3.77% Germany, 2.11% China, 0.63% Australia

We can observe strong trade relationships, like between Japan and Hong Kong, whereas China continues to have a diversified market, as well as United States, mitigating potential disruptions in the supply chain due to geopolitical tensions or economic shifts.

Japan is a strong presence as both an importer and exporter of pearls suggesting its important role as a re-exporter, likely acting as an intermediary. The presence of countries like Burma as significant supplier could suggest the possibility of emerging opportunities. Australia’s significant percentage of imports from itself suggests strong domestic trade and consumption.

  1. Hong Kong (36.5%): 53.5% Japan, 13.8% China, 10.5% French Polynesia, 5.62% Indonesia, 3.24% Australia, 3.08% Burma, 2.67% Thailand
  2. Japan (18.9%): 33.6% Indonesia, 24.6% Australia, 14.4% French Polynesia, 10.3% Philippines, 6.13% Burma, 2.81% United States, 2.58% China, 2% Thailand
  3. United States (8.74%): 28.7% Japan, 13.9% Hong Kong, 12% Australia, 10.1% China, 8.22% Thailand, 5.31% French Polynesia, 4.86% Indonesia, 1.46% France
  4. China (7.66%): 35% France, 15.8% Burma, 12.1% Hong Kong, 11.1% Australia, 8.49% China, 5.17% Thailand, 56% Japan, 2.24% French Polynesia, 1.45% Indonesia
  5. Australia (4.67%): 58.3% Indonesia, 31% Australia, 3.74% United States, 1.35% Thailand, 1.1% French Polynesia, 1.06% China, 0.78% Japan, 0.77% Burma, 0.26% France

Between 2021 and 2022, the fastest growing exporter was China with an increase of $25.6M, ahead of Japan ($24.5M), Australia ($23.1M), France ($22.3M), and Indonesia ($12.4M).



  1. China: from $75.1M to $101M
  2. Japan: from $187M to $211M
  3. Australia: from $56.7M to $79.8M
  4. France: from $5.88M to $28.2M
  5. Indonesia: from $83.8M to $96.3M

Whereas the country with the fastest imports growth was Hong Kong with an increase of $44.8M, followed by China ($31.1M), India ($16.1M), United States ($9.52M), and Macau ($7.1M).



  1. Hong Kong: from $246M to $290M
  2. China: from $29.8M to $60.9M
  3. India: from $19.1M to $35.1M
  4. United States: from $60M to $69.5M
  5. Macau: from $5.31M to $12.4M