Pearl Farming in Hong Kong – attempt to revive the 1,000 year-old industry
“David Wong Chun-kit carefully pushes his knife into an oyster, between the two sides of its shell. He wiggles the blade back and forth to sever the muscle that holds it closed, and then gently prises the shell open. Inside, nestled within the oyster’s slimy folds, is a pearl – lustrous, perfectly spherical and gleaming creamy white in the morning sun.
Wong estimates the pearl to be 7.5mm in diameter. “It’s commercial grade,” he says. “Good for necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings.”
Wong, 38, and his friend, Yan Wa-tat, are hoping to revive Hong Kong’s pearl-farming industry. There have been attempts to farm pearls commercially in Hong Kong before, but none were profitable in the long term. Wong and Yan are taking a new approach, however, using scientific techniques and state-of-the-art technology.
I meet the two pearl enthusiasts on a sparkling morning in December, at Sam Mun Tsai village pier, just a couple of kilometres east of Tai Po, in the New Territories. From there, we take a 15-minute boat ride through Tolo Harbour to an oyster raft located in a quiet, sheltered cove.
The raft consists of rows of giant floats tied together with ropes and topped with a grid of steel bars. Oyster cages are suspended from the grid, and Yan explains that most of the 3,000 oysters here are Pinctada fucata – a species native to the Indo-Pacific region that fares well in Hong Kong waters. The species produces the beautiful Akoya pearls favoured by jewellery makers.”(1)
- Pearl farming in Hong Kong: enthusiasts restock oyster beds in city waters to revive a 1,000-year-old industry SCMP 15th February 2018
This article was first posted on 1st March 2018.
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