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The Birth of Pearls


Pearls take long time to grow. They usually develop for 18 months before entering to the world. Each day, hundreds of thin pearl layers and aragonite crystals aggregate around the beads. They graft tissue in oysters’ pearl sacs. The orient of pearls and the depth of their radiance depend on this alchemical transmutation.Once mature, the oysters are grafted in graft fare, simple houses on stilts planted above the lagoons, only steps away from pearl farms. There, grafters harvest what they sowed several months or years earlier.

While the grafters admire the most beautiful South Seas gems, entire, busy teams surround them. From sunrise to sunset, pearl farms echo with the sounds of men and women working, their gloved hands detaching, piercing and cleaning the young shells, pulling “kangaroos”, the nets that hold grafted oysters, out of the water. This is hard, dangerous work that only indigenous people from these islands can do, but it allows them to continue living on the isolated atolls.

The Pearl Oyster

The word “nacre” comes from the Persian word nakkar, which means “shimmering ornament”, and has come to refer to the pearl oyster. The oysters that give birth to Tahitian cultured pearls are among the largest, capable of reaching 30cm diameters, and go by the name Pinctada margaritifera, Cumingii variety. Margaritifera is an evocative name, from the Latin margarita, meaning both treasure and pearl. Nacre lived in Polynesian waters since long ago, and man long has coveted the rich bronze glimmer of its shell. Part of the illustrious Pteriidae family, nacre is renowned for the quality of its aragonite mother-of-pearl secretions. Pinctada margaritifera oysters live and die where the currents place them. Young nacres are collected in some Polynesian atolls, under the water’s surface, along structures colonised by spats.黑碟貝。

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