The lagoons of French Polynesia are inhabited by Pinctada margaritafera, or the black-lipped clam that produces Tahitian pearls. Farmers collect juveniles (spaths) on collectors in the form of metal cells with small cells.
Step 2: Reproduction
The secret of beauty of pearls is their purity, so divers carefully clean them from algae and other weeds, which can take away nutrients from the stone. Collectors with spaths are left in place for several months, and then slightly grown juveniles are transferred to mesh-tightened frames that protect them from aquatic predators, especially from starfish.
Step 3: operation
Three years later, the mollusks grow to sizes from 10 to 12 cm, and specially trained workers, mainly Chinese women, perform an implantation operation. The method is as follows: in one of the oysters, a strip of living tissue is cut from the mantle. A pearl kernel is wrapped in a piece of this fabric and placed through a cut into the mantle of another oyster. Mother of pearl is chosen as the material for the core, because it is better absorbed by the oyster.
Step 4: Cultivation
Then the oyster is returned to the sea, where the transplanted tissue “behaves” in the same way as the oyster’s own epithelial cells, releasing nacre. Gradually he envelops the foreign grain. Of the 100 “operated cases,” 30% of oysters will be rejected by him, and 20% will be the victim of underwater predators.
Step 5: Harvest
Specialists who conducted the operation during the harvest of mollusks evaluate the results of work, determining the growth of the pearl. This is an important stage, since the examination may entail further human intervention in the development of the pearl. If the clam is healthy and the pearl is of good quality, it is removed. As already mentioned, only 5% of the total crop will bring quality pearls suitable for creating jewelry.
Jewelery connoisseurs have a special account for quality criteria, according to which they evaluate it, are as strict as with diamonds. Pearls should shine and sparkle, and rainbow should convey different shades. Small grooves and indentations are not a sign of marriage: they give the stone charm and originality.