I have a strong interest in visiting the Akoya pearl farms in Ise Shima, Uwajima, or Tsushima to see how Akoya pearls grow and are processed. After all, unlike diamonds, or other gem stones, pearls develop organically in creatures and that makes them unique in my view.
I know it’s not easy to make a living by farming pearls because it requires coexistence with nature and environment which sometimes have a will of their own. In addition to that, it takes 3-4 years to produce Akoya pearls.
Baby oysters are born in June and grown for 3 years and then pearl nuclei are implanted one by one in oysters. Then, it normally it takes over a year until the pearls are extracted. So, this is another reason why pearl farming is not an easy way to make a living.
Akoya farms in Japan had a hard time in the 1990s because of red tide and new species of infectious diseases. During this time, the number of aquaculture companies decreased significantly. Currently there are 58 registered companies. But, in recent years, the Asian market has expanded rapidly, especially in China, and the Akoya pearl industry seems to have regained its shine. However, one problem many of these aquaculture companies face is they do not have successors who will take over the business after the original owners retire.