Thursday, October 21, 2010

How to culture a pearl

It is a lot easier to artificially stimulate a mollusk (1st image, a mussel) into creating a pearl than it is to find a natural one. These round and flawless alternatives as we know them today have been around for 100 years and now make up 99% of all pearls sold worldwide. The steps involved in culturing a pearl are as follows:
  1. Find an ideal location to raise freshwater or saltwater pearl oysters after you have consulted a manual.

  2. Obtain your pearl oysters, either by collecting them in the wild or obtaining them from a breeder.

  3. Set up the farm using either the Tahitian long line method, floating rafts (2nd image), or underwater trestles.

  4. Allow the oysters to mature.

  5. Employ a grafting technician to perform the nucleation, the surgical procedure of implanting the foreign object (usually a shell bead) around which the pearls will form.

  6. Wait 2 or more years.

  7. Harvest the pearls when the nacre layer is about 3mm thick.

To quote the Shawshank Redemption, "Easy, peasy, Japanesey."

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