Hi everyone! So this will be my first post in this forum, and it involves an area of personal research that fascinates me: the culture of modern-day pearl hunters in North America. After browsing around the forum, there's a large collection of pearl experts here, and if any of you get a chance, I was hoping for some info on this somewhat obscure topic.
Before pearl farming and cultivating dominated the market, peoples used to strike it rich through an American form of pearl diving. These lone individuals in the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers kept their favorite spots in the rivers a secret. They lived in a world of distrust, muddy grime grime, and obsession -- all to chance upon the rare, traditional shaped freshwater pearls. Today, solo-pearl hunting is diminished and somewhat antiquated, but people still do it. Without a greater business incentivisation, there aren't many people who spend their time trying. I'm trying to find ways to get a hold of these people and the companies who contract them.
Here's a short article written about 20 years ago that conveys this culture: http://www.texfiles.com/features/pearls.htm
It's heavily stylized and well-written, but it's also difficult to confirm the descriptions and sub-culture. Have any of you come across people who spend their free time pearl hunting in freshwater rivers? If you have, I would really appreciate any help trying to track these people down.
Thanks everyone. -- Kevin