THE AUSTRALIAN PEARL INDUSTRY

The Australian Cultured Pearl Industry has its roots in Broome, in the Kimberley region of North West Australia during the mid 1950s however, pearl oyster fishing had its origins here over a century ago. In this small and bustling town, the world's most sought after mother-of-pearl shell was sourced by the international market for its commercial use in button manufacture. If a pearl was found in the process it was considered a bonus, and indeed could change a man's destiny forever.

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The magic of the pearl enticed men from around the world to risk their lives and try their luck in an insatiable treasure hunt. Wooden luggers and hard hat divers have come to symbolise those often treacherous treasure hunts for the one perfect pearl that had the power to command a fortune.

Yet again the once sleepy town of Broome has transformed itself to become the hub of pearling activity. Just as it supplied the world market with the most extraordinary natural pearls over a century ago, the Australian pearling industry continues to produce the world's finest pearls. The industry generates exports valued at AUS$200M annually and employs approximately 1000 people. The industry is a quota-based fishery, cooperatively managed by Government and Industry to maintain the resource. Twelve companies operate 16 licenses to fish for wild pearl oyster stocks for their shell supply. The total combined quota is 572,000 shell per annum. Individual company quotas range from 15,000 shells up to 330,000 shells.

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Unlike coloured gemstones and other pearls, the Australian Pearl's beauty is there for all to behold the very moment it is delivered from the oyster. These high grade pearls are of such quality they do not require bleaching, tinting, dying or skinning. Australian Pearls are harvested by hand, cleansed of sea salt and organic residue and graded for marketing. The beauty of the Australian Pearl will never fade because they are pure, and can be passed down from generation to generation. Finding a home for these pearls has never been a problem.

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The Australian Pearl Industry exports approximately 320 kan annually (3.75kg = 1 kan). Strong demand from markets in Japan, the USA, Hong Kong and Europe for pure, naturally cultivated Australian Pearls quickly absorbs the production.