Pearls in Paradise

Pearl farming is just that—farming. Like grape growers tending their vineyards, different pearl growers get different results. They are, after all, raising living things. Water quality, weather, nutrients, temperature, and human intervention all play a role in the final outcome, and each pearl-growing region has its own unique characteristics. Jewelers know the popular locales, but following is a guided tour of some of the “other” pearling locations. Cook Islands The Cook Islands, a protectorate of New Zealand, are approximately 700 miles southwest of French Polynesia, so it makes sense that pearl farmers there use the same shells found in French Polynesian waters. Cook Island black pearls are grown off only one island in the region: Manihiki. “It's a volcanic atoll,” says Peter Bazar, of Imperial Deltah Pearls, Providence, R.I. “They grow the pearls in the middle.” (Note

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