Pearls are the natural gems from the sea. These are cultivated using living creatures. So, they are very unique and special.
Completely natural pearls are very rare and they are not used in jewellery. Thus, humans use various alternative methods and pearls like the Japanese Akoya pearls that are cultivated in their natural environment. This is called pearl culture.
Akoya Pearl Culture
The most popular and traditional of all the cultured pearls are the Akoya pearls. These are more popular because of their big size, more vibrance and better lustre. Let’s see how they are cultured.
The Akoya oysters are fresh water oysters and are grown in hatcheries. This is called Akoya oyster farming. The exact steps of Akoya Pearl culture are –
- The farmers opened up the shells of the cultured oyster manually and nucleate them with a foreign body.
- This foreign particle is inserted in-between the shell and the soft tissue of oysters.
- The oyster counter acts the irritant by secreting nacre around the particle to smoothen them.
- Thus, an Akoya Pearl is formed.
Some facts about Akoya Pearl culture
- Unlike other types, only one pearl is formed by Akoya oyster, after which it can’t be used for producing pearls.
- The survival rate of these oysters after the nucleation and other process is only 50%
- After nucleation, the oyster is raised and lowered, in and out of water to manage their temperature.
- Proper care is taken so that the conditions are favourable for the oysters to produce the pearl.
- Every time the oysters are removed from the water, the pearl growth is checked and monitored.
- It takes roughly about 10 to 18 months for cultivating a commercially viable Akoya Pearl.
Harvesting Akoya pearls
After the time period, the Akoya oysters are removed from water and are moved to the harvesting centre. Then each oyster shell is manually opened to see if the pearl is grown. Once they have grown, the pearls are removed, using the harvester and then the oysters are discarded.
The harvested pearls are placed on the receptacle and are further separated by colour shape and size.
Due to their low survival rates and one-time pearl generating quality, these are extremely valuable pearls.