BOCA RATON, Fla., Nov. 9 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they have, for the first time, produced beaded and non-beaded cultured pearls from the queen conch (Strombus gigas).
Researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute say they’ve developed novel and proprietary seeding techniques to produce such cultured pearls.
Assistant Professor Hector Acosta-Salmon and Megan Davis, the institute’s director of aquaculture and stock enhancement, said they produced more than 200 cultured pearls using the techniques they developed. Prior to the breakthrough, no high-quality queen conch pearl had been cultured.
The scientists said their achievement opens a unique opportunity to introduce a new gem to the industry. They said their accomplishment is comparable to that of the Japanese in the 1920s when they commercially applied the original pearl culture techniques developed for pearl oysters.
“Perhaps the most significant outcome from our research is that the technique we have developed does not require sacrificing the conch in the process,” said Davis. “The 100 percent survival rate of queen conch after seeding — and the fact that it will produce another pearl after the first pearl is harvested — will make this culturing process more efficient and environmentally sustainable for commercial application.”
The research is to appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Gems & Gemology.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International