Pearls fetch higher prices at Japan auctions

Buyers are forking out more for pearls at auctions in the central Japanese prefecture of Mie, as the weaker yen drives up prices.

The Ise-Shima area is renowned for the quality of its locally-harvested pearls. These gems and others have been going under the hammer at local auctions since last week.

The top-rated specimens are fetching prices roughly 80 percent higher than last year.

The surge is partly a result of a shortage in the local supply. Four years ago, 70 percent of young Akoya pearl oysters died, mainly due to a virus that circulated in a nearby bay.
The situation has been improving, but not enough to satisfy local and overseas demand. Producers expect the trend to continue.