Pearl shopping in Beijing

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Pearl shopping in Beijing

One of out optional stops in Beijing was a trip to a pearl jewellery manufacturer and retailer, Longing Pearl

Our tour started with demonstration of how they recover the pearls from the oysters. The assistant at the shop showed us to a tank containing Oysters and asked the children how many pearls they thought the oysters contained. Normally you might think the answer was one but apparently fresh water oysters have many more.

Pearls from a fresh water oyster in Longing Crafts Pearl Shop near BeijingTom used a net to help fish an oyster out of the tank and our assistant used a knife to open it up. The rings on the shell show the age of the oyster – ours had 8 for 8 years, so ours was a young one!

Having opened the oyster, we counted out the small delicately pink pearls – 26 in total. We all received one free.

Then we were shown around the shop. Three areas – the first was apparently ‘great for gifts but not for yourself’. The second was better quality while the third was clear considered too expensive for most and was situated behind a glass wall.

Pink and purple pearls are apparently more or less unique to China but they also had other colours including ivory and black. Our assistant also showed us how to tell real pearls from fake. Rub them together – the real pearls will feel gritty and leave a powered behind. Can’t see any seller being particularly happy with this approach though!

The prices didn’t seem too bad. We eventually settled for a small bracelet which cost 280 Yuan – about £28 (GBP). The selling wasn’t too intense but it didn’t feel like place to barter which was probably a mistake as we possibly paid a little over the odds!