Major Genera of Pearl Oysters
- Biologists tell us that around 15 genera of oysters may produce pearls of commercial values: 9 (nine) belong to the sea-water oysters and another 6 (six) of fresh-water types. However, only a few that dominates as the producers of commercial pearls in world trade.
- The most well-known of sea-water pearl oysters is of the genus Pinctada. Pinctada occur in several seas of the tropical belt and in the sub-tropical region.
- There three major Pinctada sub-species:
- 1. Pinctada Maxima
- 2. Pinctada Margaritifera
- 3. Pinctada Imbricata/Fucata.
- Of the fresh-water types, Hyrriopsis Schlegelli (Biwa pearl mussel) is the most well-known.
- The gold/silver-lip pearl oyster Pinctada Maxima occupies the central Indo-Pacific from Myanmar to the Solomon Islands.
- Its bio-geographical distribution is stretching along the coasts of Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesian archipelago (Lombok Island), the Philippines, down to the north coast of Australia.
- This species are found at depths ranging from low tide level down to 80 meters. The central portion of this range, the Indonesian Archipelago, Papua New Guinea, Australia and the Philippines, has or had prolific shell grounds.
- Pinctada Maxima oysters produce South Sea Pearls, due to the fact that their breeding grounds known as the South Sea.
- Pinctada Maxima is observed to have various external colors: light yellowish-brown, green, dark brown or purple.
- The nacre (i.e. the hard pearly inside layer of the oyster shell) has a clear and rich luster.
- Part of the nacre close to “its mouth” can have a golden or silver band of varying width. This gives Pinctada Maxima its common name of gold-lip or silver-lip oyster.
- Pinctada Maxima is the largest species of the genus: its body size ranges from 20 to 30 centimeter with a weight that may reach up to 6.3 kilogram.
- Pinctada Margaritifera, the black-lip pearl oyster, ranges from the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Sudan, Papua New Guinea, Australia, French Polynesia, Indonesia, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Southwestern part of the Indian Ocean, Japan and the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Cali¬fornia, and Mexico.
- Pinctada Fucata exhibits a variety of color morphs ranging from the commoner reds and browns to greens, bronzes and creams.
- The nacre is of a cream to golden color with a hard metallic luster. The largest specimens are up to 10 cm in diameter.
- Pinctada Fucata also has a wide distribution from the Eastern Pacific (Venezuela) to the Western Pacific Ocean (Korea and southern China), Australia, Indian Ocean to the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.
Hyriopsis Schlegeli Pinctada Fucata
- Hyriopsis Schlegeli Pinctada Fucata is freshwater mussels which are common throughout the world, but those used for pearl cultivation are mainly found in freshwater rivers, lakes and ponds.
- In China they are even found in places like the farmers irrigation ditches.
- The mussels are extremely adaptable to local conditions.
- Their luster is usually not as high as with other oysters used for pearl cultivation.
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