Thursday, 16 February 2012

Start a Pearl Farming Business



(280). Start a Pearl Farming Business

Pearls are those pristine, precious dewdrops that continue to fascinate you no matter how many times you look at them. They are the most beautiful gems available to us and their stunningly aesthetic beauty is the reason why they are so popular around the world. Have you ever wondered how do these beautiful and awe-inspiring pearls originate? While the natural pearls are simply found in seas shells, the cultured pearls are made with an intricate process, over a period of time. The making of pearls is as smooth and delicate a process as the pearls themselves. Pearl farming is a profitable venture that can reap up to 200 per cent profit with no tax deductions. Anyone interested? Read on to know about various aspects of pearl farming.

Pearl farming, a lesser known practice, but certainly a lucrative business, unfortunately, hasn’t caught the fancy of Indian entrepreneurs as yet. Predominatly so, due to lack of awareness and technology.

In the absence of any takers willing to breathe life into the pearl producing oysters, India, which was once known to produce the finest ‘oriental pearls’, imports pearls worth $ 4 million every year now.

After pearl fishery was stopped in India four decades ago, as a step to put a check on the depleting resources of natural pearls, production of pearl came to an apparent halt while countries like China, Japan, Australia, Tahiti and Indonesia, the biggest producers and exporters of pearl, took to pearl culture in a big way. In fact, pearl culture is one of the main cultivations in China and Japan.

Pearl is a natural gem and is produced by a mollusc. While the demand of pearls in India and elsewhere is increasing, their supplies from nature have reduced due to over exploitation and pollution. India is importing a large amount of cultured pearls every year from international market to meet the domestic demand. The Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture, Bhubaneswar has developed the technology of Freshwater Pearl Culture from common freshwater mussels, which are widely distributed in freshwater habitats throughout the country.
In nature, a pearl is formed when a foreign particle viz., piece of sand, insects, etc. by chance enters into the body of mussel and the mussel can not reject that out and instead makes a shiny coating on the particle layer by layer. This simple phenomenon is being exploited in pearl culture practices.
The pearl is similar to the inner shining layer of shell called ‘mother of pearl layer’ or nacre, constituted by calcium carbonate, organic matrix and water. The pearls available in the market could be artificial, natural or cultured. Artificial or imitation pearls are not pearls but pearl-like materials that simply contain a rigid, round core or base and an outer pearly coating. In natural pearls the core or nucleus is minute with thick pearl nacre. Generally, a natural pearl is small in size and irregular in shape. A cultured pearl is also a natural pearl, the only difference being the human intervention in surgical implantation of a live mantle graft and nucleus for hastening pearl formation to the desired size, shape, colour and lusture. In India, three species of commonly available freshwater mussels viz., Lamellidens marginalis, L. corrianus and Parreysia corrugata found to produce good quality pearl

How Natural pearl forms
  • A natural pearl is formed when some form of irritant lodges itself into a mussel (freshwater oyster). To protect itself from the irritant, the mussel secretes a fluid to coat the foreign element. And over a period of few months or a year or two, layers of coating are formed on the irritant and thus a lustrous pearl is formed.
  • Pearl is basically calcium carbonate deposit within the soft tissue of shelled oyster.
  • However, pearl formation procedure is different in cultured pearls. In freshwater pearl farming, mussels are nucleated through surgery which initiates the process of pearl formation.
  • The process starts with collecting mussels from river, which are then put under pre-operative care to help the mussels adapt to the new environment. The mussels are then operated upon and nucleus is implanted between its soft tissue. Subsequent to the surgery, mussels are put under post-operative care, also called the ICU stage.
  • Post recovery, mussels are put in a pond, where they are tended to while pearls take shape inside the shell.
  • Depending on the type of mussel, pearl formation can take anywhere between a few months and several years.
  • The last stage comprises harvesting pearls. Pearls are extracted from the mussels, which are washed, cleaned and certified by gemmologists before they are sold.