Products of the Sea-Pearls

Products of the Sea-Pearls


  • Products of the Sea-Pearls

Published Date

  • published 1940


[page 12]
removed, the wound treated with antiseptics, and the oyster returned to
its cage in the sea for convalescence. If it lives it is carefully tended for
the next seven years while it coats the mother-of-pearl nucleus exactly as
it would any other irritant in producing a natural pearl. (1)

Approximately 40 per cent of the oysters undergoing this
operation die. (1) Looking across the waters of Cokasho Bay is a
monument built by Mikimoto in honor of the millions of oysters that died
in building his industry. (2) The 60 percent that live produce pearls but
owing to a number of uncontrollable factors many are irregular in shape.
Only about five per cent have market value. (1)

In spite of this the world is flooded with culture pearls. Since
1913 other firms have begun production with inevitable competition and
price cutting. Once the cheapest Mikimoto string brought $150, now a
similar string sells for $25. Novelty methods and shifting standards
wrought havoc in the market. A strand of pink Armenian pearls with
dyed nuclei, sells for as little as nine dollars and imitation pearls may be
had for three. (2)

When Mikimoto exhibited his pearls in St. Louis one of his
visitors was La Place Bostwick, who was thoroughly familiar with the
shell camps of Iowa and who had already made observations on selected
plantings of mussels in hidden streams. Bostwick, in 1908, began more
thorough experiments in a $25,000 laboratory which, because of its