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Ruans: Building a pearl brand

21 September 2018

By Sze Man Young   


Pearl earrings

Ruans Pearl's retail store

Pearl jewellery set

 

A leading player in China’s pearl sector, Ruans Pearl (Holding) Co Ltd has been in the business for more than three decades. Creating a successful pearl brand however is only part of the company’s ambition – more importantly, it aims to change the market’s perception of pearls.

Ruans Pearl (Holding) Ltd operates boutiques in high-end malls in Beijing, Xiamen, Nanjing, Shandong and Hangzhou not only to showcase its products but also to put a brick-and-mortar face to its already well-known name. It recently expanded to Hong Kong and unveiled its flagship store. In an interview with JNA, Ruan Tiejun, CEO of Ruans Pearl, disclosed that the company is planning to go public and open branches overseas.

Branding

Ruan stressed that branding is a necessary step for the company and the entire pearl industry. He further remarked, “We are creating a pearl culture by partnering with experts in the field as well as upcoming designers to create products that strike an emotional chord with consumers. We want to add cultural depth to our brand and to the pearl industry as a whole.”

Technological innovations in freshwater pearl farming also bode well for the sector as these mean that the quality of freshwater pearls keeps improving while the required cost is going down. This likewise translates to a bright future for freshwater pearls, which may someday rival their saltwater counterparts in terms of quality and market share, revealed Ruan.

In fact, China’s freshwater pearls account for more than 95 percent of the world’s total production. Majority of these are exported to other countries. A more effective domestic supply chain meanwhile is yet to be developed. In spite of this, Ruan is optimistic about the growth of the local market since pearls have always been regarded in traditional Chinese culture as noble and elegant.

Industry upgrade

According to Ruan, the biggest problem facing China’s freshwater pearl industry is excess capacity, which could be resolved by way of branding. Developing a brand involves creating products that are consistently high in quality as opposed to producing a huge quantity of mediocre goods. Ruan practises what he preaches, having shifted his focus to the high-end market.

Ruans Pearl made a splash in 2011 when the Protocol Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs chose its products as gifts that were presented to foreign leaders and dignitaries. The company was again placed in the spotlight during the 2016 G20 Hangzhou Summit and the 2017 BRICS Summit when its products were designated as official souvenirs for the events.

“All these developments contribute to our brand-building initiatives, which involve design, sales, promotion, opening stores as well as customer service. These make up a complete supply chain,” explained Ruan. “We’re not focusing on the present but the future. The industry has seen a sea change where only the fittest survived. These companies have a very clear idea of what made them survive. They use this knowledge to go from strength to strength.”

Changes in the jewellery business landscape is likewise affecting the way jewellery companies do business, Ruan said. With the proliferation of WeChat sellers, many distributors are jumping on the e-commerce bandwagon while second-generation jewellers are gradually embracing online promotion and selling.

“Thanks to China’s significant spending power, gemstone and jewellery markets worldwide have grown considerably, particularly those for jadeite, gold and diamonds. The pearl market has the same potential for growth,” added Ruan.