We support small, family operations in China. Traveling through central China, Maria and Bryan met and befriended a wonderful group of pearl farmers. These farmers facilitate the growth of pearls in a process called ‘culturing’, using techniques first developed over 100 years ago and are constantly being improved.
Pearl culturing involves implanting an irritant into the body of the mollusk and then placing the mollusk into proper growing conditions. Our Chinese friends culture their pearls inland in a condition called ‘freshwater’. These small freshwater ponds are nurturedand monitored for 3-5 years before harvest.
Pearl culturing is an environmentally-friendly process. It requires the a clean and carefully tended ecosystem. All parts of the mollusk are used, creating no waste. The body of the mollusk is used for both human and animal consumption. The pearls are highly sought after, and the shell is used for both jewelry and as an organic fertilizer.
Maria and Bryan Chapin-Cao first met in Beijing during an intercultural exchange outing. After more than two years of traveling and dating, they married in a traditional Chinese wedding ceremony in Beijing. They are based in Bremerton, Washington and visit China every year to visit family and select new pearls.
Bryan: (360) 550-2122