How Cultivated Pearls are Grown

Tissue Nucleation

Tissue Nucleation

Nice article with photos about pearl farming.


THE CULTURING PROCESS

Technicians open the live pearl oysters then gently surgically implant a small shell bead along with a tiny piece of mantle tissue. This bead is the nucleus around which the oyster secretes layer after layer of nacre, the substance that forms the pearl. This step of the culturing process requires tremendous skill and precision. The oysters will only allow their shells to be pried open 2 to 3 centimetres or they will reject the nucleus. Experienced technicians use exacting tools to make the tiny incisions.

The nucleated oysters are quickly returned to the sea, housed in individual mesh pockets that are suspended from floating rafts. The oysters feed and grow in sheltered bays rich in natural nutrients. As time passes, the oysters secrete lustrous layers of nacre around the implanted bead. In winter, the oysters are moved to warmer waters. Pearl technicians monitor water temperatures and feeding conditions daily at various water depths and move the oysters to take advantage of the best growing conditions.

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