Modern and trendy, timeless and classic, pearls are your go-to gem. But can pearls be considered sustainable?
This is a question we get asked a lot around here at Pure Pearls. Our clients are environmentally conscious, and today's consumers want to know their purchases, whether they're buying jewelry or hand-lotion, are as sustainably sourced and created as possible.
When farmed and harvested correctly, pearls definitely qualify for the 'sustainable jewelry' category. No doubt about it.
Although many in the jewelry industry know about pearls' sustainable qualities, quite a few jewelry shoppers still don't. And not shockingly, a large percentage of the general population has no idea about the pure goodness of pearls' sustainability and their beneficial role in the marine environment.
Sustainability in the jewelry industry isn’t a new thing, but more jewelers than ever before are making sustainability a top priority in their business.
From recycled packaging to sourcing fair mined precious metals and gemstones, to helping locals earn sustainable wages and have improved working conditions, gem and jewelry companies around the globe are making adjustments to be more environmentally conscious and mindful of the people working to bring us these beautiful gems and minerals.
Thanks to more recent calls for transparency within the industry, it’s becoming easier to track down gemstone and precious metal sourcing information and get the scoop on how, where and what the process is for bringing these materials to market.
Still, finding accurate information isn’t a simple task. And, with various gemstones in the jewelry world continuing to be in the spotlight for questionable practices, it’s no wonder there’s misinformation floating around about pearls and the pearl farming industry‘s impact on our oceans, waterways and aquatic ecosystems.
Thankfully, many pearl farmers, jewelers and those within the gem and jewelry industry, such as the Cultured Pearl Association of America (CPAA), are sharing their knowledge and spreading the word to set the record straight and shine a spotlight on the pearl’s reputation as a sustainable gemstone.
With saltwater cultured pearls being quite possibly the most sustainable of cultured pearls, I’m here to fill you in on why many cultured pearls can be considered sustainable - when farmed correctly - and how the pearl farming process can help ensure that we have beautiful pearls and a healthy aquatic environment, now and in the future!
Contrary to popular belief, pearl farming doesn’t have to cause the destruction of marine habitats or sea life. Done properly and consciously, it protects our waterways and the creatures that call it home because in order for pearls to grow, the oysters need a pristine aquatic environment to survive and flourish.
One example is the coral reefs which are endangered and adversely impacted by ocean pollution and the rising water temperatures caused by global warming.
Healthy oysters need specific nutrients to grow properly and these beautiful yet delicate coral reefs help a ‘pearl in need’. So keeping our coral reefs healthy aids in keeping oysters and other marine species healthy as well. When all things work together in harmony, it is a well-oiled aquatic ecosystem.
Cultivating pearls requires acute precision. It’s an extremely detailed and arduous process involving many years of planning and work. Pearl farmers use a special knife to open oysters to remove the pearl without causing harm.
The oyster is returned to the water after the pearl is harvested, so it will continue to grow, spread its unique genetics to neighboring oyster populations and possibly produce more pearls if needed.
Certain varieties of saltwater pearls, such as Tahitian (Pinctada Margaritifera) and South Sea Pearls (Pinctada Maxima), can be nucleated again for a second and even third harvests, allowing the oysters to produce multiple pearls throughout its life.
The painstaking process pearl farmers use to meticulously care for the oysters in the waters on a regular basis is daunting, I can assure you, as it involves maintaining consistent water quality, temperature and other environmental factors.
Outside influences, such as weather and water pollution, play a substantial role in the success or demise of each pearl farmer's crop.
And, since oysters are filter-feeders who filter the water to remove large amounts of nitrogen, they can dramatically reduce marine pollution and help maintain and preserve the consistently stable conditions needed to protect our oceans' delicate sea life.
Ethical pearl farming practices can positively impact our environment when done correctly.
Pearl farming also helps provide an important source of income to the people living in coastal areas. By cultivating pearls, farmers can generate a steady income from selling the pearls to pay their workers a fair wage. This helps improve the livelihoods of the workers who rely on the oceans and the marine environment for their income.
In all honesty, pearl farmers don’t really get much credit for their work, either. They skate under the radar, so to speak, working tirelessly to improve the quality of our oceans and protect marine wildlife from further damage and destruction, yet not many people actually think about how vital they are to the survival of our beloved marine life and oceanic ecosystems.
There are many myths surrounding the farming and harvesting of cultured pearls, and we believe correct knowledge is the key to making informed purchase decisions. Our educational guides here on the Pure Pearls website contain factual info and tips to help you make the best decision possible when shopping for the perfect pearls.
One part of our transparency practice here at Pure Pearls is to steer clear of traditional supply chains to avoid unnecessary markups. When we bypass the middleman, we’re able to keep prices low while bringing you the highest quality cultured pearls in today’s market in the most sustainable way possible.
By investing in eco-friendly pearl farming practices, we can help preserve our planet's beautiful natural aquatic resources and still enjoy spectacular jewelry pieces made with these precious gems from the sea!
So many of our clients are conscious stewards of the environment and wear their pearls with pride, knowing their cultured pearl jewelry purchases help protect marine life, our oceans and our waterways.
As always, I’m here to answer your questions and help you search for the best pearls at the best price. Sustainably.
Until next time,
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