The pearl industry had made great progress in recent years and production sharing contracts (PSC) between private enterprises and MPE had done much to facilitate the transfer of new technology into the country’.
On January 12, 1954, the Japanese, Mr. K. Takashima established the “South Sea Pearl Company”. In September 1954 Takashima established a joint venture with the Myanmar Pearl Fishing and Culture Syndicate The match, however, was challenged and negotiations required the involvement of both governments. The farm site was on Malcolm Island in the Myeik Archipelago and it provided excellent conditions. Regular harvests began in 1957. Mr. Takashima’s pearls created an international sensation. They were considered the worlds finest, were the most sought after and fetched the highest prices. But like many good things, the glory days came to an abrupt end. In August, 1962, his firm was nationalized by the government. Under the unskilled workers, [lie country’s pearl cultivation slowly deteriorated. In 1997, the Myanmar government formed a new joint-venture with a Japanese company but it quantity was still low and quality was substandard. Once considered the finest in the world, Myanmar’s pearls almost lost their glow.
After nationalization, the Syndicate, People’s Pearl and Fishery Board tried to produce pearls using Myanmar citizens. It became the People’s Pearl and Fishery Corporation under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests and Myanmar cultured pearls virtually disappeared from the world market. Then in 1988, Myanmar reformed its socialist economy to become a market-oriented economy, and a total of three joint-venture companies, both local and foreign, are now undertaking Myanmar white South Sea Pearls production.
Pearl Island became the main station, as pearl cultivation has been expanding to some other islands of Myeik (Mergui) archipelago, conducted by state-run and joint-venture pearl companies. And Myanmar once again take back it’s place among the pearling nations.
South Sea Pearls are prized for their large size, high luster and colors ranging from white and cream, to silver, pink, and gold. Australia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines are the primary geographic regions for the cultivation of South Sea pearls. South Sea pearls range in size from 9mm to as much as 20mm, with an average size of around 12mm.
Today pearl cultivation is a State-owned economic enterprise known as the ‘Myanmar Pearl Enterprise’ or IMPS, which is part of the’Ministry of Mines.’ In the mid 1990s the government began several joint ventures between private foreign companies and INIPE. Myani-nar’s cultured pearl production reached its peak in the 1990s, with the harvesting of over ’17 trans’ of pearls.
The biggest pearl ever was found on the seabed at Alukkalauk pearl oyster exploration area north-west of Zadetgyi Island in Kawthoung Township, Taninthayi Division -this is near the southern border fiomMyanniar to Thailand. The pearl is 6.2 cm in length, 5.3 cm in width and three cm in height, exceeding the measurements of the Hope Pearl recorded as the world’s largest in the past. The pearl’s weight is 45.06 nioninies -local weight, 845 carats, 169 grams and 929.50 yatis. Alyanmar Andaman Pearl Co. Ltd. found the pearl on 18 April in the pearl Melo Pearl oyster exploration area and handed it over to the State. The company is working under the profit-sharing agreement with Myanma Pearl Enterprise. In addition to the pearl’s size, it is also a rare, significant and quali ty gem.
Non-nacreous melo pearls are produced by meld volutes, which are found along coastal areas of Myanmar. Occurring in a range of colors, the most prized is the intense orange hue commonly found in a ripe papaya. Intense orange color, spherical shape, unique flame structure, and size are all considered in determining the price. Irregular, baroque and button shaped pearls with less prominent flame structure and cloudy white spots of mottled texture command lower prices.These pearls exhibit a silky flame¬like structure and a porcellaneous luster that make them very attractive. Like conch pearls. Melo pearls are truly rare and very few people know about them and dealers and collectors in these pearls are equally rare.
The species found sporadically along Myanmar coastal areas is Melo melo, a gastropod. They can be found along the Rakhine coast and in the southern region of Dawei, the Myeik Archipelago, and Kawthaung in the Andaman Sea near Thailand.
In Myanmar these shells are called “Ohn kayu” (coconut shell), as they resemble coconuts. The orange pearls derived from these volutes are also called “Ohn pale” meaning coconut pearls. The color of these shells varies from orange to orangey-yellow, pale yellow to brownish in color. Their size in length ranges from 120 mm. to 230 mm., although larger sizes have been reported. Melo shells are fished at a depth between 30 meters to 50 meters in a muddy sea bottom by “Wa-lat” or “Gar” fishing trawlers. Ref;Melo Pearls from Myanmar By Han Htun F.G.A., Bill Larson, Jo Ellen Cole, G.G., F.G.A.
Traditionally, the standard for pearl jewelry has been to use white or near-white cultured pearls, freshwater pearls, or natural pearls that are perfectly round. The white, round beauties have been treasured because, in the world of pearl jewelry, they are rare. Increasingly, however, women are appreciating the uniqueness and versatility of pearls in a variety of shapes and colors – just as nature makes them. If you’ve always thought of pearls as white and round, it’s time to think again!
- Round – Traditional round cultured pearls are often used for pearl bridal jewelry, the traditional pearl necklace, and other cultured pearl jewelry, like pearl stud earrings.
- Rice – Rice pearls are small and shaped irregularly, and have crinkled surfaces.
- Potato – As its name implies, potato-shaped cultured pearls have irregular oblong shapes.
- Oval – Shaped like an egg, these saltwater or freshwater pearls are usually white. Photo by,lordanrich I
- Mabe -This pearl is flat on one side, giving it a dome shape.
- Keshl – Also known as poppy seed pearls, these are tiny freshwater pearls.
- Button – This round freshwater pearl is flat on one side.
- Coin – Like the button pearl, except it is flat on both sides.
- Baroque – These freshwater pearls are completely free form, having no predetermined shape.
- Circle – Also called the ring pearl, this saltwater pearl has concave, concentric lines.
Mother of Pearl
Mother of pearl is the shell that natures pears as they are produced. Mother of pearl is a much sought after product in the West as it is seen as a high valued product to present jewelry, decorative home items for the rich and famous. Myanmar has a large stock of mother of pearl. Specializes with local artisans to produce a number of mother of pearl items such as underplates, boxes, spoons and forks.