The Life Cycle of a Pearl – From Its Beginning to Your Jewellery Box
Do you know what an oyster farm is? These oyster farms are where oysters are grown for commercial purposes such as food and also for pearls. Life begins in spring in the hatchery.
The life span of an oyster starts in a large warehouse that is very moist and very hot which are perfect conditions for ‘spawning’. Several oysters are picked for spawning. These are picked for certain traits such as:
- Depth of shell
- Growth rate
- Meat content
- Resistance to disease
These oysters picked for spawning are put in very large tanks filled with water that is warm where they get ripe and build up gamete. They are moved to a spawning tray where the oysters discharge their gamete into the water — 70 million “free swimming larvae” that become oysters!
Pearl oyster farms
Pearl oyster farms begin their life cycle in much the same way. These farms began in the early part of the 20th century and became an industry that at the retail level is worth billions of dollars. What are called ‘juvenile’ pearl oysters are obtained by collect in the wild or bought from hatcheries that breed pearl oysters. An oyster has to be a certain size before they can be operated on to induce the birth of a pearl that is cultured. This time period ranges from a year to 2 years.
Larvae to cultured pearl
It takes time for the birth of the larvae to harvesting of a cultured pearl – 4 to 8 years. The time of harvesting begins in colder periods of the year. But harvest periods do vary from pearl farms depending on:
- Size of operations;
- Water temperatures;
- Health of the oysters.
The production of pearls of the best quality demands:
- Ecological sound stewardship;
- Vision for a business that is long-term;
- Farming practices that are responsible.
Lots of care
Pearl oysters are extraordinarily sensitive. These oysters are returned to waters that offer them the best in conditions for growth. The oyster that is free of disease and stress will produce a better quality cultured pearl. These oysters are protected by baskets or nets to keep them safe from other sea creatures that will eat them. They are also cleaned regularly to remove any floral or faunal overgrowth on the shell.
If you interested in learning more about the farming of pearl oysters you can visit pearlsonly.com and they can tell you more about cultured pearl oyster farming. And on the internet you can find amazing pictures of the life cycle of a pearl.