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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    Default Pearl Nucleus Manufacturing

    Here is a short video shot at the Fukui shell factory in Guangzhou China.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iaMjIc9V4g

  2. #2
    Valeria101
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    What kind of shells are used to make the nuclei?

    Those look very thick for their small size!

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    I do not recall what shell they were cutting that day. They use a lot of different shell, but work with one at a time. I can check with Doug Fiske on that one. But the Fukui factory uses only US shell, the Washboard, and a few others. They use no local Lamprotula leai.

    On a side note, I checked with many people on this trip to see if anyone was culturing in Lamprotula shell. It turns out that was all just fantaz. Nobody does it...

  4. #4
    Valeria101
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    Thanks! This much would do for my curiosity.

    Lamprotula? What lamprotula! Forgot that one already...

    The look and labor on the pearl farms and factory you show in the videos make it crystal clear why pearl culture is not exactly mainstream in the parts where these pearls are bought. Could hardly imagine the labor environment here, although not since long
    Last edited by Valeria101; 05-06-2007 at 08:04 PM.

  5. #5
    Pearl Maven Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Caitlin's Avatar
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    Strack (2000 p.344) says that 15 varieties of American mussel shell are used, including "pigtoe, ebony, elephant ear, pistolgrip, three ridge, maple leaf, pimpleback, white heelsplitter, and purple pocketbook". She also refers one to Figure 54 on page 77. Fig 54 is several pages of pearl producing unionoids in North America.

    These guys are a story in themselves- exploited vs conserved, etc. which is why I put up everything I can find on American mussels- they are pearl producing on their own and they are the nuclei in those fabulous akoyas.
    Caitlin

    How to hand-knot pearls without a tool

    My avatar is a Sea of Cortez mabe pearl. One of a pair of Mexican handmade earrings.

  6. #6
    Ashley
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    Jeremy- were there very many experiments done in culturing using the Lamprotula species? I understand that the nuclei produced was considered very brittle...

  7. #7
    Perle
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    Fantaz

    Strack says Lamprotula is found in nearly all rivers, streams, and lakes in China, but is not used for pearl culture and practically no natural pearls have been found. I'm guessing they tried but for some reason it can't be done? Would be interesting if Jeremy's heard of any attempts . . . .

    What are these small (up to 6 mm), frequently brittle nuclei used for? Nucleated freshwaters? Lower grade Akoya?

    Perle

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ashley View Post
    Jeremy- were there very many experiments done in culturing using the Lamprotula species? I understand that the nuclei produced was considered very brittle...
    I am sure there were some experiments done. Everything has been tried in China once or twice. But there are no Lamprotula pearls, cultured or natural, that I know of. It was all a big fantaZ

  9. #9
    Ashley
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    I've read somewhere that the Vietnamese have been culturing Akoya using the Lamprotula- which makes sense from a cost standpoint, but I haven't been able to find any verification... I guess you're correct- it must all be just fantaZ (wait a minute- Jer was that a double entendre?? I can't believe I missed that! I am getting slower and slower and summer approaches it seems...)

  10. #10
    jerin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ashley View Post
    I've read somewhere that the Vietnamese have been culturing Akoya using the Lamprotula- which makes sense from a cost standpoint, but I haven't been able to find any verification... I guess you're correct- it must all be just fantaZ (wait a minute- Jer was that a double entendre?? I can't believe I missed that! I am getting slower and slower and summer approaches it seems...)
    Hi Ashley,

    what does "entendre" mean?

  11. #11
    Pearl Diver Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Mikeyy's Avatar
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    I thought I might help this discussion. I started digging for mussel shells at 13 years old. In 1969. So I have a long history in this business. I shipped my first container of shells to Japan in 1990. The mussels used for nuclei production from the U.S. are The Washboard, Three ridge, and Ebony shell. These are the main commercial shells. Although there were other shells listed earlier in this thread they are not specifically commercially harvested.

    If I can answer any questions about the shell business I am happy to help. You won't find anyone on this board with a longer history in this business.

  12. #12
    Pearl Diver Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Mikeyy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caitlin View Post
    Strack (2000 p.344) says that 15 varieties of American mussel shell are used, including "pigtoe, ebony, elephant ear, pistolgrip, three ridge, maple leaf, pimpleback, white heelsplitter, and purple pocketbook". She also refers one to Figure 54 on page 77. Fig 54 is several pages of pearl producing unionoids in North America.

    These guys are a story in themselves- exploited vs conserved, etc. which is why I put up everything I can find on American mussels- they are pearl producing on their own and they are the nuclei in those fabulous akoyas.
    Hi Caitlin,

    That is an old list of shells that have been harvested from time to time over the years. However, Most of those shells listed are not sought after. For example. Pistolgrip shell. I would bet there hasn't been a hundred pounds of them harvested in the last 10 years. If you asked your average diver to identify a "Purple Pocketbook" He would be clueless.

    Pimple backs, Mapleleafs. Are usually thrown in with three ridge shells. Out of a thousand three ridges harvested you might have 20 maps or pimps.
    Last edited by Mikeyy; 04-08-2008 at 03:33 PM.

  13. #13
    Ashley
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    Hi Jerin,

    The word entendre is French in origin, and means to hear, or receive news or meaning.

    The phrase Double Entendre I understand to mean a double-meaning, or as the dictionary puts it: A word or expression used in a given context so that it can be understood in two ways esp. when one meaning is risque.

    FantaZ- would be Jer's inside joke referring to Z's "Dream Collection"... Hey I made a double entendre! Somebody stop me...

  14. #14
    Pearl Maven Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Caitlin's Avatar
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    Hi Mikeyy
    Thanks for the clarification.

    Although Strack has more info on pearls than any other book of the moment- her's really a textbook, she sometimes makes errors in details. In fact, she started out her lecture this year saying that as soon as she gets that book to the publisher, it is already outdated.

    I hope you write more aobut your experiences in the shell industry. What is your experience or knowledge about poachers? How often do you find pearls in the shells you harvest?
    Last edited by Caitlin; 04-08-2008 at 06:31 PM.
    Caitlin

    How to hand-knot pearls without a tool

    My avatar is a Sea of Cortez mabe pearl. One of a pair of Mexican handmade earrings.

  15. #15
    Pearl Diver Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Mikeyy's Avatar
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    I don't know if you have read "Pearls and Pearling" by Vertrees. Its a pretty good start. You can read most of it on google books for free. My grandfather was one of those who supplied the button factories along the Mississippi after the turn of the century. Since I was a boy on the river I have been around the shell business. From what we would call puddling or pollywogging. Which basically means searching for shells by hand without equipment. To diving with drums. We have used dredges, crow foot bars and hand diggers. Which is basically a rake that you drag behind your boat. I have seen the hey day in the late eighties when you could walk across a half mile of river from shell boat to shell boat and never get wet. When I was a kid I could dig 2-3 tons of shells a day myself. Today a diver would be happy to find a few hundred pounds a day. If you can find a diver. This is the result of many factors. One is over fishing the same areas year after year.