Among the treasures they traded were Philippine South Sea pearls, which was one of the most coveted by Chinese Emperors and European monarchs alike. Harvested from natural oyster beds in the temperate waters surrounding the Philippines by seafaring nomads called Badjao. Diving to death defying depths to find them, pearls from the Sulu Sea were recognized as the largest and most lustrous, and thus fetched the highest price.
As centuries passed, natural oyster beds dwindled in number due to overfishing and pollution. It seemed then that the South Sea pearl’s legendary beauty would be lost forever, with only the wealthiest able to afford these rarest of gems. However, with the advent of modern pearl farming technology, the Philippine South Sea pearl is once again catching the eye of pearl aficionados from all over the world, particularly in China and the rest of Asia.
In a cover feature titled “Precious Gold”, published in the April issue of Discovery magazine, Cathay Pacific’s in-flight periodical, writer Jennifer Henricus talks about Philippine South Sea pearl. “The warm waters lapping the remote islands of the southern Philippines are an underwater paradise,” she writes. “(d)ivers come here from all over the world to revel in this ocean’s bountiful treasures. However, unknown to many, these waters are the cultivation ground of an even more glorious treasure: golden South Sea pearls.”
The article goes on to talk about the pearl cultivation process in Jewelmer’s pearl farm:
“In the Philippines, pearl production hinges on the huge advances made in biotechnology:
Jewelmer’s Managing Director Jacques Branellec describes the process as “a growth process that has been contained into a sphere that contains all the energy coming from nature and from man”. It takes between four to five years and 323 individual steps to create a lustrous gem with a golden luster that is, as the article describes “worth the wait”.
The golden Philippine South Sea pearl is more than just a beautiful bauble. Rather, it has a rich history that continues to unify both people and nature under its glorious golden glow: A true herald of peace.
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