Pinctada Maculata (Pipi) Pearls

I love seeing tangents on questions! You guys are awesome 😁

Someone recently asked me if the surgical procedure for pearl culturing was painful for the mollusk. I don't have good access to journals any longer and couldn't really find any information on whether mollusks have pain receptors in their nerve endings. Does anyone here know? I presumed that yes they do because it could be a triggering response to parasitic invasion. I hate to presume though....
 
I love seeing tangents on questions! You guys are awesome 😁

Someone recently asked me if the surgical procedure for pearl culturing was painful for the mollusk. I don't have good access to journals any longer and couldn't really find any information on whether mollusks have pain receptors in their nerve endings. Does anyone here know? I presumed that yes they do because it could be a triggering response to parasitic invasion. I hate to presume though....
I believe we have discussed this subject intensively over the years. Let me see if I can find the threads.
 
Alex Collins just arrived into town today. He owns a Tahitian pearl farm on Takaroa and brought a bunch of special pieces to do a live stream from our office tomorrow. I thought he was only bringing Tahitians, but he brought his collection of natural Pipi too!

View attachment 468043
The above lot, which was saved from its alternative fate in Hong Kong, has been sorted in preparation for design work. That perfect golden drop is 7mm x 8.7mm. It looked smaller in the live stream, so a nice surprise!
 

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I love seeing tangents on questions! You guys are awesome 😁

Someone recently asked me if the surgical procedure for pearl culturing was painful for the mollusk. I don't have good access to journals any longer and couldn't really find any information on whether mollusks have pain receptors in their nerve endings. Does anyone here know? I presumed that yes they do because it could be a triggering response to parasitic invasion. I hate to presume though....
They don't have a brain, hence pain is not processed the same way. In nature, creatures like mussels survive where even other molluscs cannot. These settings are often fraught with environmental stresses. Storms, falling or tumbling rock, logs ashore, radical temperature shear, predation etc. occur commonly.

Mantle sensitivity cause valves to close when contacted. Broken shells are common in the wild. The mollusc's ability to rebuild shells and regenerate tissue is quite advanced. When damaged, mussels cannot merely close their shell, instead must restructure new barriers. One might think if the creatures were tortuously distressed or otherwise greatly infected, they will not survive.

On the grand scale of evolution and environment, an epithelial transgraft is a minor pinprick on a mollusc's physiology and well being.
 
I can't wait to see the finished piece!
PIECES!

I just re-watched that live stream with Alex Collins. He commented upon query from Jeremy that the two Poe Pipi lots were collected over a period of about six months. It should be clear collection and harvest are two different things.

I'm attaching the text of a 1995 article from Pearl Oyster Information Bulletin, as it offers an eyewitness account of the harvesting process on Tongareva, historically the most prolific of all P. Maculata populations (in 1995 already in steep decline). Families would spend days and weeks harvesting and opening thousands of mollusks resulting in a handful of salable pearls, to be stored in a jar for a rainy day. After many months or years, enough pearls might be accumulated to cash out to a pearl trader in Rarotonga for a new TV, fridge, etc.

The pearls in Te Poe O Te Kuki Airani (Post 1) were 'collected' from locals on Tongareva by a resident pearl trading family over a period of four years, from 1978 to 1982.

I can believe that the two lots Alex presented were the result of six months' collecting among fishing families in the Tuamotus, the subsequent result of cumulative years of harvest.
 

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Sharing a little progress with the Poe Pipi lot from Alex Collins, here with a snapshot from the jeweler's desk.

While my idea is to mass the pearls for cumulative effect, the 8.7mm drop had to remain apart as it would make a striking pendant on its own (and is of comparative value to the remainder of the lot).

But there are rounds in matching pairs that also merit exclusion. This delicate tincup necklace would be the result. As the pearls are perfect the necklace is to be two-sided.
 

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