John Robert Latendresse: In His Own Words

John Latendresse, who passed away on July 23, 2000, three days before his 75th birthday, was the first successful North American freshwater cultured pearl farmer. More than any other individual, Latendresse was responsible for creating the North American freshwater pearl farming industry, and he was voted one of the industry's most important people of the century (See "Jewelry's Visionaries,"JCK, November 1999, p. 130). In a 1998 interview with GIA, he looked back on a lifetime dedicated to the gem that he knew and loved best. Following are excerpts from that interview.On his early years: "When I first started in the pearl business, I would travel up and down the river buying pearls from the fishermen. Simply by chance, I met up with Morris Hanauer, then the owner of American Gem and Pearl Company, who had driven down from New York with his wife, also buying pearls along the river." On
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