A New Zealand company selling blue pearls says it has had a massive overseas response to its high-priced gem through its two-month-old Web site.
Christchurch-based Eyris Blue Pearl Company launched its Web site, www.bluepearls.com, in May, followed by roadshows and international promotions.
Since then the company says it has had about 50,000 site hits, with US browsers showing most interest.
"Hundreds" of the pearls have been sold, says marketing manager Shirley Went, though she feels the company is still educating potential buyers about the product.
Went says the product is only sold to the jewellery industry, and is better set off in a piece of jewellery.
"Once it gets going it will be a multimillion-dollar industry, but we are a couple of years away from that," she says.
Blue pearls have been farmed off the South Island since 1989, but are only now available in commercial quantities.
Eyris says it has stocks of 10,000 ready to sell. They sell for $1000 to $2000 each wholesale. The process of "nucleation" takes at least eighteen months, with only one paua in five producing a marketable blue pearl and only one in fifty producing a near perfect pearl.
The Web site was designed by Yellow Pencil Advertising and constructed by Innovative Media, both of Christchurch.
It is a promotional site and does not sell the pearls online. This month a designer gallery will show finished jewellery. Soon after, a secure area will show jewellers the more technical aspects of their business, news items and the new pearl grading system that was approved by top gemologists this month.