The Art of Pearl Cultivation

Pearls. We talk a lot about them here at Olivia & Pearl but they can be a bit of a mystery, so we thought we should give you a little download about where we source them from and how cultured pearls are farmed

I’ve been fascinated by how pearls are formed since I was a little girl, which is one of the many reasons I started Olivia & Pearl, and it was always a long-held dream of mine to travel to Asia and build relationships with the pearl farms and farmers there.

Pearl farming itself has only been around for about 100 years and before scientists discovered a way to cultivate pearls they were almost extinct. Thankfully Kokichi Mikimoto discovered a way to produce farmed, round pearls in 1916 making them accessible to people all over the world rather than just the very rich.

Cultivation has also allowed farmers to produce pearls that are consistently exceptional for their lustre and clarity – these are known as AKOYA pearls – as before cultivation the quality of the pearl was dependent on the wild oyster so it was much more of a lottery!

Now for the science bit! The way pearls are cultivated is a precise and careful process. A mother of pearl nucleus is planted into the mollusc which activates its natural protective response as it’s seen as an intruder. Conchiolin is secreted that is then covered by a nacre coating (that’s the coating that gives pearls their famous lustre!). The longer it cultivates, the thicker the pearl and usually the deeper the lustre.

The pearls are kept in rafts out at sea that are sheltered from the worst of the weather and rich in natural nutrients and as the oysters feed and grow they deposit layers of lustre. They’re even moved into warmer waters during the winter and are lifted out for cleaning treatments to remove seaweed deposits and barnacles that have attached to their shells. Like a little oyster spa day!

Finally, it’s harvest time… If the oysters have managed to survive typhoons, red tides and attacks from predators they open to produce a stunning pearl.

The pearls we currently work with are triple AAA grade freshwater and AKOYA cultured pearls which are the finest on the market meaning you can always be sure that when you’re buying from @oliviaandpearl you’re getting the very best.

Our aim is to deliver on par quality to top end suppliers such as Mikimoto but with a fresh, new take on designs and without the traditional mark-ups.

Who knows, maybe one day @oliviaandpearl will have its own pearl farm – a girl can dream!

Olivia x

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