How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

Do you know what engaged once residents Arab Emirates before oil was found on their territory? Although technically if any of the Emirates was not there, because the state is young, formed in 1971. So ... once the local Arabs made their living - fishing for pearls in the waters of the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman.

First inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula just dived for wild pearls, but in the 30s of the last century the Japanese took over the experience and began to cultivate pearls artificially implanting inside the shell of pearl, mother of pearl beads.

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

I'll tell you about the history of fishing and pearl farming, pearl show you Museum of Ras al Khaimah and features of the "operation" of the oyster-pearl. And you will learn how to distinguish between a real pearl from a fake.

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

Ras Al Khaimah - one of the seven emirates that make the federation. He - the most northern, and so here the temperature a couple of degrees lower than in neighboring countries. In early September, the day temperature is around 37-40 degrees. But it is - even out of season. The main influx of tourists in the Emirates begins in October. Then, the temperature drops to a comfortable 30+ degrees.

organizers of the trip showed us which opened in March this year, Pearl Museum, located right on the shore of the Persian Gulf, which, by the way, the locals call the Arab. And all because the Arabs are at odds with the people of Iran, the Persians.

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

The walls are covered with thousands of oyster shells.

Once removed from its valuable pearl stuffing shell can go in case - there is nothing to throw away. Oysters are used for home decoration, furniture inlays, making accessories and souvenirs or simply allowed to fertilizers.

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

As it turned out - shellfish-pearl on the outside quite plain.

Before pearls here began to grow industrial way, local pearl divers dived to a depth of several meters and collected shellfish in baskets woven from palm leaves. It was a difficult and dangerous job. To protect against jellyfish used special linen suits, gloves protect hands and put on the nose clips. To protect your skin from damage, divers rubbed her special oils. Their eyes and ears remained open, thus often professional fishermen pearls eyesight and hearing lost from pressure spikes and a long exposure to salt water.

But their work is always well rewarded - before the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries the Japanese have patented the cultivation of pearls, pearls in the world market was very expensive. A nucleated saltwater pearl is still valued more than freshwater pearls, as they are more difficult in the production / cultivation and have a much more pronounced luster.

Today saltwater pearls occupies a small share of the world pearl market: 95% of the world production takes freshwater.

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

In the photo - a traditional Arab protective suit dive for pearls, which protects against jellyfish stings.

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

Vintage scales and weights, which were used to assess the gems for book cataloging of finds and a box for storing precious pearls.

Of course, after the appearance of techniques of mass cultivation of pearls prices fell on him, and he became available, but, nevertheless, the cost of a single pearl can vary from a few dollars to several hundred thousand.

When evaluating take into account many factors, and it is not only the color, size, smoothness and luster, but also the opportunity to choose the equivalent of all these qualities, pearls, so that they looked harmoniously together.

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

In the stairwell of the museum frozen in eternal impulse of each other two wire plunger.

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

In the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, pearls are harvested by Japanese technology. It - cultured pearls, which is called "Akoya" and because of its brilliance is considered a benchmark of quality in the world market.

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

In fact - a natural pearl is a foreign body, mostly larvae of the parasite that gets inside the mollusk. To protect themselves from the growing and evolving alien, shellfish begins to secrete a protective agent - pearl, which envelops the parasite and neutralizes it. If the oyster won this war for survival, dead alien body within it year after year continues to grow into new and new pearl layers as long as it may be, does not find a lucky pearl diver. The record for the largest weight and became a huge pearl weighing over 6 kilos, which in 1930 was found in Japanese waters.

Thus increasing the natural pearls, which are now quite a few (not more than 2 per cent) of the world market.

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

The lion's share of today's market is occupied cultured pearls, who spend their lives languishing here in these grids, cages. But before we get there, they find themselves on the table to "a pearl surgeon."

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

This is the master showed us how the future pearl foundations laid in the oyster.

All the tools that are on the table on a red rag at a demonstration at the museum during the actual process on pearl farms immersed in the cell with the brine. Do not forget that oysters - are living organisms, which are struggling to survive, and some of them, the weaker will lose this fight. Therefore, tools should be kept clean, and the process of "operation" takes place as quickly as possible, accurate, sharpened movements experienced professional.

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

During the "operation" in shellfish inserted wooden struts and prepare special "implant" - usually a small bead. Ras Al Jaime used as a core nacreous beads made from freshwater clam shells grown in Mississippi.

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

But the body to better cope with oyster embedded inside it a foreign body and a rapid onset of the production of nacre, use a piece of the mantle of a mollusk, pearl mussels of the same species. He cut out a strip of ...

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

... which is then cut into pieces. Each of the pieces is applied to the ball, so that it could act as a catalyst for the formation of future pearls.

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

oyster ajar, ready to lay the ball is placed on a special holder with spacers - a kind of "operating table".

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

Pieces of mantle sprinkle food coloring to make them more noticeable compared to other tissues inside the oyster, of which manipulation is performed. After that the ball passes tab and mantle fragment into reproductive organs of mollusc - gonad. Experienced master produces up to 450 minute similar transactions per day and per oyster it takes no more than 15 seconds.

What happens after the oyster - you'll learn a little later.

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

And this is - one of the most beautiful, in my opinion, the museum exhibits - pearl shells Buddhist saints on the walls.

Actually, mankind has tried to cultivate pearls artificially for many centuries ago, long before the Japanese worked out the technique and put the process on stream. More in medieval China inside shells put miniature figures of animals and tiny Buddha images made from metal, bone or clay. They did it not only to get amazing pearl figures, but also to appease the gods and spirits, and to thank them for a good catch.

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

Despite the fact that the mass cultivation of pearls appeared more than a hundred years ago, the high-quality pearl products are still very expensive. And all because I get a large gem quality and quite difficult - the percentage of pearl formation even when cultured oysters and proper care is quite small. Even more difficult to pick up the gems that would be suitable to each other in size, hue, gloss, smoothness, and so on. D. And if now, when the year is artificially cultivated millions of mollusks, and is still not easy to get high-quality pearls, what to speak of those times, when production was only natural way - catcher had to pull out and expose (ie, to kill..) Hundreds of oysters before it reaches the pearl of acceptable quality. Shellfish killed thousands and hundreds of thousands, if not for the emergence of pearl cultivation, perhaps all would have disappeared from the face of the Earth.

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

After visiting the museum, we went for a walk along the bay. I'm not really sure that this boat to give us something like a traditional Arab boat catchers zhmechuga - "yawl" that plied the waters of bays before the arrival of pearl farms.

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

Maybe those fishing boats more like just such. On the boat, "Yala" that holds a supply of provisions and water, pearl divers went into the sea for weeks, and for days spent in searching for precious pearls, the day of committing to three hundred dives. Although in any case, the wild pearls here a long time ago do not catch.

Let us return to our shellfish! After the introduction of ball-seated implants oysters in cages, which hung on the ropes a few meters from the shore. Several times a month they are taken out, cleaned of parasites and growths, feed, monitor the composition of water, its purity and the degree of salinity.

But despite all these concerns in the first month of the oysters die, and some - rejects embedded in them ball-implant. "Remaining in" clams, and their less than a third of the total, are formed by a pair of pearl millimeters in a few months. To grow large as possible to be used in the Ras Al Khaimah species of mollusks Akoya pearls - which is 10-12 mm - will take three years.

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

While walking RAK Pearls employee showed us what it looks like pearls, grown on their farms.

In today's pearl farms, to once again not to injure the oysters, they shine X-ray and determine whether there is the pearl inside, and if so, what is the diameter.

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

Here is the oyster with the uncovered high-quality Akoya pearl. It was grown by Japanese technology on farms of RAK Pearls, young enough, appeared in 2005, the year. Abbreviation meaning RAK Ras-Al-Khaima, the name of the emirate.

And where are the pearls of irregular shape, which can not be used for jewelry? Their use in the production of cosmetics, medicines, and for other purposes (e.g., for the manufacture of artificial pearls).

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

Many people get confused and think in terms of cultured pearls are artificial. But this is not the case. Cultured pearls have nothing to do with growing in the shells. Traditions of imitation pearls for several hundred years - even during the Renaissance pearls are made of glass filled ... with paraffin.

Now the simulation options - set. This glass, and plastic, and glass beads, carved out of mother of pearl shells, as well as the famous "Majorica pearl", which for 120 years are made on the Spanish island of Mallorca in the Mediterranean Sea.

In its manufacture the alabaster beads which cover the thinnest layers nacre. To distinguish this from the natural pearls are very difficult. Without cutting the pearl determine the originality can only be a specialist with the help of the equipment.

But us mere consumers, too, should learn some of the features and differences - not to make a mistake and do not buy a fake, we must first look at the color and shape of pearls: artificial pearls will always be homogeneous, the same size and color, without any irregularities and defects . If you draw a pearl in the teeth, (gnawing his in any case it is not necessary), it would be natural to creak softly and be a little rough. But to distinguish colored plastic or glass is quite simple - you need to look at the opening of the pearls, in most cases, will be noticeable layer of paint or glass "inside" beads.

But it turns out there's a catch - the pearls may be natural, but it is of poor quality. Such a product is trying to "elevate" - its tint or irradiated. Dyed pearls can be determined by considering a magnifying glass. Usually uneven surface of the ball and the paint can go to spots.

There is still also important to see the holes in pearls - normally accumulates more paint here than in other places. A pearl is irradiated to change color - usually dark Tahitian pearls are more valuable, so mimic them too.

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

I found this picture on the Internet to show you what it looks like in the context of cultured pearls.

Left - Tahitian pearl nacre thickness on it - only 0, 4 mm. Right - Japanese, with same layer nacre. And in the middle - the pearl of Ras Al Khaimah. They have a pearlescent layer thickness typically varies from 0 4 to 2 mm.

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

Local pearls known for its good quality. In the development of the pearl business, as well as in tourism, local authorities have poured a lot of money from oil money, which, as we know, do not last forever.

When I was preparing this post, I stumbled on the network to the description of one of the tours for tourists vacationing in the Emirates - anyone can feel like a dive for pearls and dressed in a white suit similar to the one you saw above, to dive in shallow water in search of decomposed pre oysters with pearls.

In my opinion, a cute and funny. It reminds skeet. It is worth the entertainment - 330 dollars. And for those who do not like outdoor games, there are more conservative option to spend - just go to the store with the pearl museum or one of the many shops in Ras Al Khaimah ...

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

Another very struck by this fact - it turns out, the pearls are not "live" for a long time. Probably, because it represents a mixture of organic and inorganic substances. It is very moody gem for that need proper care. Pearls that are not, "dies". And even if it be worn and properly care, pearls still does not usually lasts longer 150-200 years. The oldest large pearl of the existing - a pear-shaped "Peregrine", which is caught in the 16th century.

How pearls are harvested in the Emirates

And finally - a collage of pieces of jewelry that were created from grown in Ras Al Khaimah, pearls and mother of pearl ...