Key pearl testing role for Bahrain By BASMA MOHAMMED , Posted on » Wednesday, June 02, 2010
BAHRAIN is spearheading international efforts to find ways to detect a new type of cultured pearls that cannot be distinguished from natural ones.
The country's Pearl and Gem Testing Laboratory was the first to uncover the strong resemblance between real pearls and the Keshi type of cultured pearls.
It raised the issue at the World Jewellery Confederation's last meeting, which was held in February in Munich, Germany.
International delegates agreed that a committee, which yesterday met for the first time in Bahrain, develops scientific-based testing and identification methods.
The meeting, held at the Industry and Commerce Ministry's Diplomatic Area offices, is being attended by directors and experts from specialised pearl laboratories from across the world.
Countries taking part include the US, Thailand, Switzerland, Italy, the UK and Japan.
The two-day event will also discuss various research and scientific studies as well as results conducted by various laboratories.
Industry and Commerce Ministry director of Precious Metals and Gemstone Testing Directorate Ali Saffar told the GDN that the Keshi cultured pearls were a threat to the natural pearl trade in Bahrain and the world.
This is due to its huge similarity and cheap price compared to the natural ones, he added.
"The new type of Keshi pearls created a situation where on many occasions the laboratory has been forced to refuse the issuance of testing certificates for this type of cultured pearl," said Mr Saffar, who chaired the meeting.
"This is due to the fact that it cannot be made certain if these pearls were natural or not."
He said that the meeting was recognition of Bahrain's advanced level in testing pearls, as it is considered one of the best laboratories in the world.
"It also gives the laboratory an international reputation and recognition of its pearl testing certificates, particularly in the auctioning of natural pearls."
Bahrain is also working on a local level to revive its ancient industry in co-operation with Information and Culture Ministry, the Finance Ministry and Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife.
The Pearl and Gem Testing Laboratory annually tests 20kg of pearls from Bahrain and abroad, according to Mr Saffar.
Up until 1929, pearls were the driver of Bahrain's economy.
The industry, which employed 90 per cent of Bahrainis, largely died out after 1929 when divers took up new jobs following the discovery of oil. firstname.lastname@example.org