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Did you know that pearls are possibly the most sustainable gems?

Pearls are the only natural gems, which come from a cultivation process, rather than being extracted from the earth through mining.

Pearls are created by saltwater oysters and mussels water sweet. These need environments with clean and nutrient-rich waters to be able to grow and create pearls of the highest quality. This causes the entire pearl industry to work to protect and improve pearl growing areas. 

Photo of the ocean with fish

 French Polynesia

As a general rule, pearl farming areas are remote areas with incredible biodiversity and beauty. The industry works to protect these areas because for the oysters to grow, the entire ecosystem must be healthy. For this reason, they try to regulate practices such as uncontrolled fishing, protect the reefs and avoid the discharge of polluting agents.

A rather striking case of success is that of the Philippines, where the golden variety south sea pearls, one of the most exotic varieties of pearls that exist. In the region where pearls are grown, dynamite fishing was quite common, this practice, in addition to affecting the oysters, affected the reef and the entire ecosystem, and it was the pearling companies in the area that managed to offer another means of fishermen and educate them to avoid this practice. 

Palawan, Philippines 

Palawan, Philippines

Contrary to what many may think, to get a pearl, it takes a long time, at least 2 years for the oyster to grow enough and between one and two until it creates a quality pearl. In most types, 5 years pass from the time the oyster is born until a pearl is obtained, so the environmental conditions have to be optimal for long periods of time.

Pinctada Fucata Martensi, the shell of Akoya pearls from one month to 3 years

 Pinctada Fucata Martensi, the shell of akoya pearls from one month to 3 years

Most pearls are cultured in Asia. Mainly in China, Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines, French Polynesia and Australia. The pearl farming business offers employment that coexists with other jobs such as fishing, agriculture and tourism. In French Polynesia, pearls are the second engine of the economy, after tourism. Is a very constant and delicate work, since the process of growing pearls is not easy. It requires a lot of attention and skilled labor, in addition to prior knowledge of this fascinating world. In many of these regions, pearl farms are small family productions.

Main countries in which pearls are cultivated: the Philippines, China and French Polynesia 

Main countries in which pearls are cultivated

In addition to the care provided by the industry, the pearls and mussels themselves also contribute their grain of sand, since their way of feeding is by filtering water, so waters with a high concentration of oysters are generally very pure, since they are constantly being purified by these molluscs.

On the other hand, oysters and mussels have very long lives and some types can produce pearls up to three times, to be later returned to the sea. Both the Maximum Pinctada, which produces white and gold South Sea pearls (known in Spain as Australian) and the Pinctada Margaritifera which produces Black Tahitian pearls, generally creates only one pearl at a time, but can do so up to three times.

Shells of the Pinctada Margartitifera


Shells of the Pinctada Margartitifera

Afterwards they are usually returned to the sea, they can live for more than 40 years.

In the case of oysters and mussels that do not return to the sea, in addition to pearls, everything is used. The shells as a decorative element and to create cosmetics and the meat both for consumption, since the central part of some others is considered a delicacy and the rest as food for animals and as fertilizer.

The white meat from the center of the oyster 

The white meat in the center is considered a delicacy

At Secret & You we have a commitment to try to offer the most sustainable product possible, which is why we work with responsible producers and farms that guarantee the best farming practices.