Pearl Oyster Propagators - Australia
Fishing Pinctada maxima

The pearl has been a highly prized article of adornment since time immemorial.The ancient writings of the Chinese, Persians and other eastern peoples abound with references to the esteem in which it was held.

'Mother-of-pearl' (pearl shell) has been used by islanders of the Pacific and other regions as utensils, implements and ornamentation, while the oyster itself has been a basic food item. Pearl meat is a delicacy in many western cultures.

"Fishing" of wild pearl oysters for 'mother-of-pearl' occurred from the late 1800's until WWII. Hard-hat divers would walk along the sea-bed at depths of up to 20 fathoms (36.6 metres) collecting pearl oysters averaging at least 2 kilograms.

'Mother-of-pearl' was desired for its beautiful lustre, colouring, hardness and durability for inlay work, fans, cutlery handles, dress ornaments, buttons, instrument dials and on toiletry articles such as brushes, combs and mirrors.

In processing the pearl oyster for 'mother-of-pearl' the outside of the shells are chopped, cleaned, split open and dried. The viscerum is examined for natural pearls. The adductor muscle is cleaned, dried and sold for human consumption.

Approximately 1 in 10 000 oysters collected for 'mother-of-pearl' produce a natural pearl. Pearls collected are measured and weighed before sale.


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