Producing pearls of great quality and great beauty that encapsulate the extraordinary Colours of Fiji is a masterful blend of nature, nurture, and technology. Nature provides the pristine environment, sustainable farming practices provide the nurture, and the very best in Japanese expertise provide the technology. In this article we focus on the technical side of pearl farming at Civa Pearls.
Nucleation - Implanting the Oyster
When the oysters reach an age of around 3 years old they go through a process called "nucleation". This provides the seed, or nucleus, for a pearl to grow within the oyster. Whilst this can happen naturally it is such a rare event that in order to farm pearls the process is performed artificially. The nucleus comes courtesy of a mature donor oyster, specifically chosen for the colour of the shell interior - this will determine the eventual colour of the pearl that is produced. Civa pearls are "bead nucleated" - a mother-of-pearl bead is surrounded by the mantle tissue from the donor oyster which is then inserted into the sex organs of the recipient oyster. The new pearl develops around the implanted bead nucleus. One oyster, one nucleus, one pearl. A painstaking and precise process that demands patience, skill and experience.
Our Masters of The Craft
At Civa we have two technicians: Yoshihiro Kazama and Joshi Matsuda. These masters of their craft have over 60 years of experience between them. They are the best in the world at what they do - implanting oysters with specific and skilfully selected sections of mantle to produce the finest pearls. Each has his own unique style that becomes apparent in the harvest. Yoshi is the creator of a high proportion of round pearls in multiple pastel colors featuring different overtones. Joshi is famous for his unique colors with strong hues.
I came to Fiji in 1998 under a Japan aid program on aquaculture in Fiji to act as a consultant with Fijian Fisheries Department. Then, in 2000, I started working at J Hunter pearls, and 2008 joined Civa Pearls in Taveuni. I could see what Claude and Danielle wanted and what they dreamed of. Many countries nowadays have problems with their pearling industry because of overproduction and low quality. Claude and Danielle did not want to go that way, they wanted to keep it small and beautiful. That’s what convinced me to stay here and work with them to develop the Fijian pearl concept! That is why I have been working with them since day one.
I came in Fiji for the first time in 2002. At the time, I got the phone call from Kazama in Fiji. All he said to me was this: “Matsuda, you come to Fiji because you are the best technician I know of and because Fiji is for you. The boss here only wants to do nice pearls. He does not care about how many, he just wants nice ones!" So I am here now doing fewer pearls but very, very nice pearls.
Combining these styles results in a unique colour palette of pearls specific to Fiji - they are found only here. Yoshi and Joshi are an essential part of the equation at Civa. Their cultural background drives them reliably and consistently through a strict and precise process. They bring a strong sense of continuity to the company. They have a deep desire to produce the one pearl, each implant considered as an individual work of art.
Hand-in-hand with their technical work Yoshi and Joshi are generous in the sharing of their extensive knowledge on many aspects of pearl farming - health and quarantine management, best practices, and pearl grading to mention a few. This ongoing partnership is key to Civa's success; we thank these two Master technicians for their outstanding work and look forward to unveiling more of their stunning creations in the forthcoming 2015 pearl harvest.
Yoshi Kazama will be here on September 28 for a month to assist in the annual harvest of oysters seeded in 2013. He will also implant new oysters to be harvested in 2017.