Pearl farming in Phuket, Thailand

Pearl farming in Phuket, Thailand

Take a guided tour through pearl farming and the history of Phuket's most successful pearl farm.

Island's largest and oldest jewellery maker has a third generation of the family in charge and helps draw ever more tourists to the Pearl of the Andaman, while offering steady jobs.

At first glance, businessman Jitti Intorncharoen, in simple shirt and jeans, cuts a salt-of-the-earth type figure.

But actually, he is the managing director of the Phuket Pearl Factory group, the biggest producer of pearl jewellery in the province.

The company is the country's first pearl producer with a fully integrated process. It runs two pearl farms and a factory for sorting out pearls and producing and designing pearl jewellery.

The company plays a part in pulling in tourist money for Phuket and serves as a learning centre for those interested in seeking knowledge about the production of pearls.

Mr Jitti's educational background is in forestry science although he has made a living away from the forests and dry land.

He said the enterprise began in 1967 as a family business run by his grandfather.

Initially, his grandfather farmed cockles and then turned to raising pearl oysters for distribution to pearl producers before his parents took over the business.

A pearl is cultured inside the shell of an oyster.A perfectly round pearl can fetch a very high price.

In 1991, the Tourism Authority of Thailand kicked off a campaign to promote tourism in Phuket. The private sector agreed to join the drive, resulting in a boom in tourism and development.

That was when the third generation of the family via Mr Jitti and his brothers and sisters, stepped in and picked up the torch and streamlined the pearl production process.

More about Pearl farming in Phuket, Thailand including audio tours.

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