Culturing Pearls in Mergui, MyanmarPlay
Travel Myanmar’s azure waters with GIA field gemologists in search of that country’s South Sea cultured pearls. As you journey to pearl farming areas off the Mergui archipelago, you’ll witness the cultivation of gold-lipped oysters—Pinctada maxima—including the process of nucleating the mollusks.
The Mergui archipelago consists of more than 800 islands, off the far southern coast of Myanmar (Burma), in the warm waters of the Andaman Sea. The expedition visited the “Myanmar Ocean” pearl farming operation to witness South Sea cultured pearl production and to collect research samples from that remote region.
You’ll venture underwater with the GIA team, to see the farm’s oysters in their mesh baskets. “Some people say that the best golden South Sea pearls are farmed here,” says Pardieu. The environment is largely unspoiled and conditions are ideal for pearl cultivation.
You’ll also catch a glimpse of the lives of one of Myanmar’s ethnic minorities, the Moken—sometimes called “Sea Gypsies.” They still lead a traditional life centered on fishing and boat building.
This GIA Field Expedition (FE63) took place in March 2014. Besides Pardieu, the participants were cameraman Didier Gruel, pearl department senior manager Nick Sturman, and Staff Gemologist Areeya Manustrong.