Pearl Farms are natural bodies of water used to raise mollusks or oysters for the purpose of culturing pearls. The mollusks are placed in protective cages and suspended in water by balloons or netting. The pearl farmers keep the water free of pollutants, regulate the nutrients in the water, and watch over the health of the mollusks. Pictured above is Cheryl King at one of the local pearl farms.
Pearls may be nucleated for a period spanning 2 to 6 years. The longer left underwater, the larger the pearl becomes.
But if larger pearls are more valuable, why not wait 6 years for all crops? Factors such as climate, weather, environment, mollusk health, and market demands all play a role in deciding the right time to harvest.
The longer the mollusk is kept underwater, the higher the chance something could go wrong, and the lower the chance that the resulting pearl, after countless coatings of nacre, is round. Indeed, sometimes smaller pearls, if all other quality indicators are present, are more rare and valuable than oddly shaped larger ones.