Visiting a Pearl Farm

Where do pearls come from?

Just what is a pearl farm anyway?

We know where corn comes from, and wheat, even rice and cotton, but how about pearls?

Pearls are also grown much like any other crop...on a pearl farm.

As anxious as I was to visit a farm for pearls, nothing could prepare me for the thrill of actually going to one and seeing first hand where these gorgeous gems come from.

On a recent trip to Japan, Korea, and China, my sons, Sam and Matt, and myself toured a farm.

After a long walk on very narrow high paths between rice paddies and man-made ponds, we (the owner of the farm, Richard--our interpreter, my sons--Sam and Matt, and myself) arrived at a small shed next to yet another pond. This pond had odd looking empty green pop bottles floating in rows.

On the right above is a close up of a plastic bottle float used.

Farms sometimes have round black floats or floating platforms with oysters suspended below.

An older man who stays in the shack greeted us and after being told by the owner we wanted to see some pearls harvested he went around to the back of his shed and loosened an old boat tied there.

Pearl Farm Boat

With a long pole he pushed himself out into the shallow water between the rows of green suspended bottles and lifted up a rope tied from bottle to bottle which held a mesh sack filled with growing mussels which are fed periodically to help them grow faster.

Chinese Pearl Farm

Opening the sack, he removed a very large mussel and went on to another sack doing the same thing, until he had five mussels from five different mesh bags.

It was obvious that he had done this several times, because of his slow, easy and expert manner of handling the boat and removing the mussels.

Raising Mussel Bag

Back on land, and after laying the muddy mussels on the ground, he retrieved a meat cleaver from his shed and forced the shells open with it. (See this and removal of the pearls on the next page.)

For those of you who are wondering...(and I know some are because I've been asked this a few times) yes, the mussel generally loses its life during the pearl harvesting process. In certain cases it can be nucleated more than once.

At this particular farm, they buy the mussels already nucleated and ready to produce pearls.

Share about your farm or visit.
Pearl Farming in India - lots of information here
Continue reading about Harvesting Pearls.
Tears of the Moon, pearl farm book
Seven Videos of Shucking Pearls
See inside a pearl factory.
Japan Pearl Farm--Video of Processes
Pearl Divers
Pearl Diver as reported in 1800's
Quotes about Pearl Diving Times and Depths of Pearl Divers
Diving Dangers
Pearl Divers in Australia
Pearling Methods
Pearl Divers in Mexico
The Basic Methods of Pearl Farming: A Layman’s Manual by Maria Haws

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