Jakarta. The Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries launched the sixth Indonesian Pearl Festival at Lippo Mall Kemang in South Jakarta on Wednesday (09/11), showcasing pearl jewelry produced by the local industry.
Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, who officially opened the festival, said she considered the event as an opportunity for the industry to promote locally produced pearls to Indonesians because buyers are still mainly from foreign countries.
"There will be an auction today and we hope it will make South Sea pearls more popular in Indonesia and not only in other countries to where it is exported. There is also a reason this event is held in a mall, to make visitors understand that pearls are not expensive," Susi said.
The event is also aimed at encouraging Indonesians to get to know more about locally made pearls instead of buying imported products.
Indonesia is among the largest exporters of South Sea pearls in the world and it produces nearly 12 tons annually. Australia, the Philippines and Burma are the other major producers of pearls.
China is the world's largest exporter of freshwater pearls, at 1,500 tons annually. On the other hand, Akoya pearls are mostly produced in Japan and China, at between 15 tons and 20 tons per year, while Tahiti is the top producer of black pearls at between 8 tons and 10 tons annually.
According to Susi, Indonesia exported 6.74 tons of South Sea pearls worth $31.2 million in 2015, thanks to 28 corporations and 88 registered producers.
"This means Indonesia has supplied more than 50 percent of the world's South Sea pearls," Susi said.
Production is mainly based in West Sumatra, Lampung, Bali, West Nusa Tenggara, East Nusa Tenggara, North Sulawesi, Southeast Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi, Maluku, North Maluku, and West Papua.
The pearl industry contributes to job creation in Indonesia employing up to 53,000 people.
The festival is also supported by the Indonesian Pearl Culture Association and the Women's Association. It was attended by West Sumatra Governor Irwan Prayitno, guest celebrity Nadine Chandrawinata, ambassadors from neighboring countries and representatives of government ministries and female civil servant associations.
During the opening ceremony, prizes were given to winners of photography, blogging and jewelry design competitions.
The festival will continue until Sunday, showcasing a pearl auction, a talk show followed by a focus group discussion, photography workshop, fashion show and a seminar for high-school students.
Lippo Mall Kemang deputy director Lanny Kuputri said she was glad to support the event to promote local products. She also considered educational events, such as the talk show and seminar, important to visitors.
"Educating the public about South Sea pearls is a must, so that they will better appreciate the local product. Many people don't know how to choose high-quality pearls and end up buying expensive or even fake pearls," Lanny said.