GIA Alumni Association Offers Cultured Pearls Tour

The Gemological Institute of America Alumni Association Travel Program is now accepting reservations for its 2007 tour of cultured pearl farms in French Polynesia and Australia.

Rose McKenna, GIA’s manager of Alumni Relations, said the fall 2007 journey will begin in Tahiti. They will fly to a private pearl farming atoll owned by Robert Wan, chief executive officer and founder of Tahiti Perles. The group will learn about the stages of cultured pearl farming, including: spat collecting, breeding young oysters, nucleation, culturing, and harvesting.

They will also fly to Papeete to tour the Tahitian government’s Perliculture Department, which regulates exported pearls, and will also visit Perles de Tahiti’s cultured pearl museum and Wan’s sorting room.

They will then fly to Australia, home of the Paspaley Pearls Group, to see its South Sea cultured pearl farming operations. They will learn about the differences between Tahitian and South Sea cultured pearl farming, and the extensive history of pearl farming in Australia. A stopover in Christchurch, New Zealand to learn about abalone-cultured mabe pearls is also in the works.

Further details about the 2007 Alumni Travel Program Cultured Pearls Trip will be released in the coming months. Participation is limited; to reserve a spot, contact McKenna at rmckenna@gia.edu or 760-603-4135.