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Pearl Education - Please enter your jewelry question or comment. > Tahitian Pearls

The Process
07-20-2011, 02:19 PM

The role of the grafter in the creation of cultured pearls is very important. The grafter is the technician who operates on the actual mollusk to implant the nucleus that will become the center of the pearl. Japanese grafters, who have a long history and experience working on the development of cultured pearls, are the most in demand, but are also the most expensive to employ.

Before the implantation is made, the mollusk is lightly anaesthetized. A wedge opens the outer shell and a small cut is made into the inner tissue of the mollusk where the nucleus is then implanted. The nuclei are themselves small pieces of interior shell from other donor mollusks. Once implanted, the mollusks are placed in shallow waters for observation. Not all of the mollusks survive the implantation process, and some will reject the nucleus, but are able to be re-implanted.

Once the mollusks are stable, they are moved to deeper waters, and are given 1-2 years to fully develop the pearl. Larger farms employ mechanized boats to keep them clean, while smaller farms clean by hand. They are carefully monitored for water temperature and pollutants.

After the first harvest, the mollusk can be implanted with a second larger nucleus, or can be used to produce blister pearls.
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