How are Pearls Farmed?

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

The pearl is an incredibly unique gemstone. While most precious gems are formed in the ground and forged in a factory, Pearls stand alone in the fact that they are the only gemstone created by a living creature.

Pearls are made when a small irritant finds its way inside an oyster or mollusc. This can be anything from a grain of sand to a piece of shell. The irritant bothers the mollusc, and so it slowly coats it in Nacre to protect itself. The result is the unique gemstone that has been treasured and admired for so many centuries.

A pearl can take on many shapes, usually dependent on the shape and size of the original irritant. To ensure the best possible result the mollusc is kept in a very clean and well-nourished environment.

Pearl farmers must have Saint like patience to wait for a pearl to develop inside an oyster or mollusc. Some taking many years of nurture to grow their precious gems. When the Pearl in an oyster is finally ready, the harvester carefully opens the shell with specialised tools and extracts the Pearl being extremely careful not to damage the mollusc.

High quality pearls take many years to form and are very difficult to find in the wild. In order to meet the high demand, most pearls on the market today are farmed. Cultured Pearls are essentially created in the same way as naturally occurring Pearls. The farmer uses many different tried and tested techniques to ensure the finished product is of the best quality. By creating a low stress, clean environment, a high-quality pearl can usually be created within 2 to 3 years.

The introduction of cultured pearls in Japan in the early 1900s disrupted the whole pearl industry. These “new” pearls were of such great quality and good value that the higher classes began to buy these instead. As a result, the value of natural pearls began fall. By 1936 there were around 300 pearl farms in Japan, producing many cultured pearls a year. The natural pearl industry began to protest that these were not “real” pearls. However, scientific evidence shows that cultivated pearls have the exact same properties as those formed in deep seabeds, the only difference being they had a little help to begin there creation.

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