'Pinctada Maculata' thread has been dormant for some months having promised more news from the Cooks when available. With the pending announcement of a new grading system (supposedly without mention of the term 'orient'!) and return to health of the Manihiki Lagoon following major hurricanes in the 90s and mismanagement in the early 2000s, the timing could be good. It also sadly seems that vestiges of natural poe pipi collection on Penrhyn have vaporized, which will at least result in complete focus on the blacks. The challenge is how to create a niche market distinct to the far larger Tahitian industry, while keeping Japanese and Chinese influence to a minimum.
I'll start a new thread by repeating this post under cultured pearls, and try to encourage independent contribution in addition to whatever comes my way. As I mentioned towards the end of Pinctada Maculata, I truly am not a paid PR agent for the Cook Islands!
Here is also a link to the thread featuring my wife's Cook Islands bracelet of giant keshi, as it represents a wide color range typical of Manihiki lagoon.