July 21, 2015 by Melissa

One of the primary changes in the pearl industry as of late is the growing concern over pearl farming’s environmental impact. The good news is that pearl farmers around the world are taking note that as a natural process, pearl growth is only benefited by actions which improve the environment in which they take place.

Pearl production is a very delicate process. Despite human interaction in the cultivation of pearls, the actual production rate for most oysters is 50% or less.  And even of the oysters which produce pearls, many of those pearls are unusable, given their size or stage of development. Therefore, any actions which have a negative impact upon the already-low rate of production can have a devastating impact upon a farmer’s livelihood.  This has led a number of farmers to implement actions which protect the “tools of their trade” by taking the lead in environmental conservation efforts, such as minimizing pollution and practicing sustainable oyster farming.

Another of the environmental impacts that must be considered is the role of the mussel shell, pieces of which are used as irritants to begin the pearl’s formation.  Over-farming of these mussel shells can also lead to environmental problems.  Steps are being taken in terms of governmental regulation in order to ensure that the pearl farming industry can continue successfully well into the future.

Unfortunately, the benefit of these efforts is not a direct one.  Regardless of the precautions taken by the environmentally-conscious farmer, uncontrollable factors such as weather and water temperature take a toll on a farmer’s yield. These risks remind us that beneath all of the human involvement, pearl harvesting is, at its core, an event still controlled by nature.