PEARLS, THE MOST SUSTAINABLE GEMS
Did you know that pearls are possibly the most sustainable gems?
Pearls are the only natural gems, which come from a cultivation process, rather than being extracted from the earth through mining.
Pearls are created by saltwater oysters and freshwater mussels. They need environments with clean, nutrient-rich waters in order to grow and create top-quality pearls. This causes the entire pearl industry to work to protect and improve pearl-growing areas.
Pearl growing areas are generally remote areas with incredible biodiversity and beauty. The industry works to protect these areas because for oysters to grow, the entire ecosystem needs to be healthy. For this reason they try to regulate practices such as uncontrolled fishing, protect the reefs and avoid the discharge of polluting agents.
A rather striking success story is that of the Philippines, where the golden variety of southern sea pearls are cultivated, one of the most exotic varieties of pearls that exist. In the region where pearls are cultivated, dynamite fishing was quite common. This practice, in addition to affecting the oysters, affected the reef and the entire ecosystem and it was the pearl companies in the area that managed to offer another means of life to fishermen and educate them to avoid this practice.
Contrary to what many may think, to get a pearl, it takes a long time, at least 2 years for the oyster to grow enough and between one and two years until it creates a quality pearl. In most types, 5 years pass from the time the oyster is born until a pearl is obtained, so environmental conditions have to be optimal for long periods of time.
Pinctada Fucata Martensi, the shell of Akoya pearls from one month to 3 years
Most pearls are cultivated in Asia. Mainly in China, Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines, French Polynesia and Australia. The pearl farming business offers employment that coexists with other jobs such as fishing, agriculture and tourism. In French Polynesia, pearls are the second engine of the economy, after tourism. It is a very constant and delicate work, since the process of cultivating pearls is not easy. It requires a lot of attention and skilled labor, in addition to prior knowledge of this fascinating world. In many of these regions, pearl farms are small family productions.
Main countries where pearls are cultivated
On the other hand, oysters and mussels have very long lives and some types can produce pearls up to three times, to be later returned to the sea. Both the Pinctada Máxima, which produces white and gold South Sea pearls (known in Spain as Australians) and the Pinctada Margaritifera
Shells of the Pinctada Margartitifera
In the case of oysters and mussels that do not return to the sea, in addition to pearls, everything is used. The shells as a decorative element and to create cosmetics and meat both for consumption, since the central part of some others is considered a delicacy and the rest as animal feed and fertilizer.
The white meat in the center is considered a delicacy
At Secret & You we have a commitment to try to offer the most sustainable product possible, which is why we work with responsible producers and farms that guarantee the best cultivation practices.