Pearls and the environment
We work day in, day out with a natural product and so our environment couldn’t be more important to us. The natural habitat of a pearl growing oyster completely determines the quality of the pearl –and even if a pearl will grow at all. Not many people know that farming pearls can directly help our planet; here’s a little more about their important link.
What’s the link between Pearls and our Planet?
Did you know that it’s very difficult to farm pearls without taking responsibility for the quality and health of the environment? Pearls have long been known as ‘the canaries of the ocean’ – and like the canaries that were used to alert miners to danger, they can warn us about the health of the waters they grow in. Pearl farmers say that you can always see the quality and constituents of the water in a pearl; nature’s handwriting never lies.
All pearl oysters need clean, pollution-free water at the correct temperature, in which to live and grow. This means that pearl farmers go to great lengths to protect the environment around them. They usually own not only their pearl farm, but the surrounding land so they can guarantee that pollutants do not contaminate the farm waters. Where dynamite or cyanide fishing are still common, farmers will launch armed patrol boats to stop these toxic and harmful practises. Their efforts create areas of incredible natural beauty and biodiversity.
An environmental risk specific to Freshwater pearls is known as ‘eutrophication’, when water becomes green with the minerals and nutrients that promote excessive growth of algae and plants. While some countries are trying to control this via legislation, curbing such pollutants remains a challenge worldwide.
We see our pearls as organic, carbon neutral gems, that are only possible when nature is healthy. Consequently, a commitment to protecting the environment is at our heart. Climate change threatens pearl farming in several ways. Warmer waters make it more challenging for pearl growing oysters to maintain the temperature conditions they need to survive. Because warmer waters also affect many natural ecosystems, it can make it hard for the oysters to feed as their normal food sources die.
In addition, increased burning of fossil fuels is changing the chemical composition of seawater, making it more acidic. Pearl growing oysters – along with crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters, have shells made of calcium carbonate, which is particularly vulnerable to damage in acidic conditions. Lastly, rising sea levels make it difficult for species such as coral reefs, sea grasses and oysters that generally live in shallower waters.