"Why don't you go start your own pearl farm?" is a question a lot of people ask me. And, I assure them I am not equipped to start my own farm. If a love and knowledge of pearls was all that is needed, well I would be on board, for sure. However there are some other things necessary. First off, deep pockets! Second, a knowledge of biological processes, marine science and more. Then you have to have a good place to start the farm and last time I checked Lake Hartwell or Clark's Hill Lake (two nearby Georgia lakes) just won't cut it!
However, news out of Kerala, India is making me think maybe I could go start my own pearl farm. Here is one man's journey and success in cultured pearls...[caption id="attachment_9517" align="aligncenter" width="636"] Pearls cultured by Rajan Poriyaniyil, an inland fish farmer in India.[/caption]
Last year Rajan Poriyaniyil attended a workshop organised by the Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI) on emerging trends in agriculture. Rajah is an inland fish farmer and thought he would try his hand at culturing pearls, feeling like they go hand in hand with fish farming. And they do! Cultivation of freshwater mussels are directly depending on fish because baby mussels attach to fish gills for sustenance as they are growing.
Rajan found success in freshwater mussel pearl production however he didn't start by trying to grow mussels for culturing; he found 30 mussels endemic to his area on the Kabani River. Rajan nucleated these 30 mussels and in his first harvest, he had 20 pearls. Not bad!
Now, as all you faithful reader know, the shape of a pearl has a lot to do with the shape of the nucleus that has been inserted into the mollusk. Rajah chose molded religious symbol that he created from powdered mother-of-pearl so his pearls are in the shape of Hindu deities!
It is a throwback to some of the very first cultured pearls. In the 5th Century, the Chinese were culturing freshwater blister pearls in the shape of Buddha.
Rajah is hoping to get Rs.500 (about U.S. $8) for each pearl. He is pleased with the idea of an additional income without an added expense of a full pearl production. Plus he feels it is easy to cultivate mussels along with his fish.
Not bad, Rajan! You make me want to go start my own pearl farm!