FIJI's three pearl exporters have agreed on a system to ensure the pearls being exported are of a high quality.
Valili Pearls of Wailevu, J. Hunter Pearls of Savusavu and Civa Fiji Pearls Ltd of Taveuni have agreed on high quality grading system for pearls destined to the export market, a statement said.
"This groundbreaking agreement is a world first in pearl farming. The agreement covers many areas such as environmentally friendly farm practices, rural community development, staff training and empowering, quality control systems, research data sharing, technology exchange, and a very high quality pearl production system control for export," the statement said.
"This system will ensure that only high quality pearls will be exported from these three farms. It will also help maintain and increase the actual solid reputation of the Fijian pearls in international markets.
"As pearl export production is ramping up again in Fiji after the devastating effect on the industry of cyclone Tomas of 2010, it is paramount that Fiji re-enters the international market with a very high quality product to keep the prices at sustainable levels for these three farms.
"In the last few years, the international market prices of pearls have suffered from a steady decline due mainly to overproduction and a low quality offer."
Ratu Jone Maivalili, the owner of Valili Pearls in Wailevu said the agreement would offer guidance and support.
"It will ensure better profitability for my farm in the long run and better support in developing my exporter skills. I am so pleased with the outcome of today. Quality is the way forward for me. Making great pearls is my best protection against failure," Ratu Jone said.
Justine Hunter of J. Hunter Pearls in Savusavu said this was a new era for the Fijian pearl industry.
"I have been a pearl exporter for almost 10 years and I have witnessed first hand the steady decline of prices on the international markets. Through these difficult times we have maintained a strong reputation abroad by always delivering a unique product.
"Quality is the only way for us to maintain our profitability. By establishing this common standard of minimal requirements for export on a voluntarily basis, we are sending a strong signal in the international markets that we are in it for quality and sustainability.
"Our buyers will not only buy a quality pearl, they will buy sustainability, rural community development and environment-friendly farm practices," he said.
Claude Michel Prevost of Civa Fiji Pearls in Taveuni said this was an incredible opportunity.