How to Culture Pearls

By eHow Hobbies, Games & Toys Editor

Few things are as classic and timeless as pearl jewelry. Nowadays, most pearls are cultured through a painstaking process known as pearl farming. It is a method that requires an equal combination of skill and luck. Here is how to culture pearls.

Find an ideal location at which to raise pearl oysters. Your location will determine whether you will be culturing freshwater or saltwater pearls. Ideally, the location will have excellent water quality and be away from reefs. There should be as little silt and cloudiness as possible.

Obtain your pearl oysters. This can be done by collecting adult specimens in the wild and/or breeding. Oyster breeding is the most common practice employed nowadays.

Set up the farming area for the pearl oysters. There are various methods that can be used, including the Tahitian long line method and underwater trestles. Combinations of various methods are sometimes used.

Keep the oysters and lines clean, while they go through the process of maturation.

Consult a grafting technician. This is the person that will implant the foreign object (usually a shell bead) into the oysters around which the pearls will be formed. This is a surgical process known as nucleation, and should not be attempted by anyone without knowledge of the procedure.

Tend to the oysters carefully while the pearls form. Some oysters will reject the foreign objects, and still others may die during the process. This is where the luck factor comes into play. Be patient, as the process of pearl formation can sometimes take a couple of years.

Harvest the pearls when the nacre layer is about 3 mm thick. Oysters which produce high-quality pearls can be nucleated a second time for a new harvest.