Pearl Island in Viet Nam

Pearl Island in Viet Nam: Phu Quoc island a paradise of pearls.

Pearl farms are must-see attractions. Visitors are shown every aspect of oyster breeding, including the process by which mother-of-pearl dust is coated by a special substance inside the oyster to form pearls.

A guide will also demonstrate how to cut open an oyster to extract a pearl.

The farm showrooms display various kinds of pearls, including those in white, ivory, yellow, black and even red, as well as in all shapes such as circular, water drop, heart-shaped, square, triangle and lozenge.

Naturally produced pearls are much more valuable than man-made ones, yet their shapes remain rather rough. Man-made pearls are often more beautiful as they are shaped better, are more shiny and finer in colour, my local guide explained.

However, he said that only 20 per cent of pearls sold in shops and showrooms on the island were native to the island, most brought from other localities in the country or imported from China.

"Phu Quoc pearls are distinguished by their colour and shine," he said, "Natural pearls can heal scratches on the surface themselves. An easy way to recognise real pearls is by scratching them against each other. There should not be any scratches as a result, only some mother-of-pearl dust."

Japanese pearl expert Horikiri Seiji has judged Phu Quoc's pearl quality "as good as those from famous pearl producing countries in the world".

Explaining the reason for such quality, my guide told me that the crystal clear waters surrounding the island offers favourable living conditions for shelled molluscs like oysters and snails, many of which can produce beautiful pearls. This is why the island has been nicknamed "pearl island", he said.

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