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Ama - the Japanese pearl divers

Ama, meaning ‘woman of the sea’ are amazing Japanese pearl divers. These women specialise in free diving up to 25 meters down into cold water without using oxygen tanks or other breathing equipment. Ama used special techniques to hold their breath for up to 2 minutes at a time; they would gather abalone, seaweed and other shellfish.   photos by Yoshiyuki Iwase While traditional ama divers wore only a fundoshi (loincloth) for easy and quick movement in the water and a tenugui (bandanna) around their head to cover their hair, that meant that the ama were almost skinny-dipping. Those divers who descended the deepest would also wear a weighted belt around their waist to aid their descent. The most important tool...

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Lake Kasumigaura Pearls

The Kasumigaura Pearl is a freshwater cultured pearl from Lake Kasumigaura in Japan. Lake Kasumigaura is the second-largest lake in Japan, located 60 km to the northeast of Tokyo. Pioneer Mr. Kazuhisa Yanase began cultivating these pearls, in the size of more than 10 mm, with a round nucleus (akoya rejects have been mentioned as nucleus). He executed implantation of the molluscs himself. After seven years he succeeded in harvesting beautiful pearls. To date, there are only three main farmers cultivating pearls in Lake Kasumigaura. Yanase set up his own nursery for rearing the necessary mussels, where they were allowed to grow for three years. Then, it takes further three to four years after implantation until the pearls can be harvested. Freshwater...

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Mageveepärlid

Mageveepärlite kasvatamine sai alguse 13. sajandil Hiinas:  hiinlased panid erinevaid kujukesi jõekarpi, mille ümber hakkas kasvama pärlmutter (pärli koostisaterjal).  Mageveepärlid kasvavad jõekarbis (enamus Hyriopsis cumingi) järvedes, jõgedes ja tiikides. Pikka aega ei peetud mageveepärleid nii atraktiivseteks pärliteks kui mereveepärleid, sest nad olid väikesed, läbimõõt umbes 5mm (pärlid pildid nr.11 ja nr.12), samas kui mereveepärlite keskmine läbimõõt 10mm ja rohkemgi. Ka olid mageveepärlid pigem tuhmi läikega ja kujult ebaühtlased. Põhjus peitus selles, et mageveepärlid koosnevad ainult pärlmutrist, mistõttu ümmargust ja ühtlast kuju oli palju raskem saavutada. Samas on ainult pärlmutrist koosnevad pärlid palju vastupidavamad.  Et orienteeruda erinevate pärlitüüpide väärtuses ja hinnas, tuleb arvestada mitmete kriteeriumitega nagu pärli kuju, tema suurus, pinna siledus, värv, läige ja pärlitüüp. Ümmargused ja suured pärlid on tavaliselt hinnalisemad. Lisaks suurusele ja kujule on pärlite...

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Freshwater pearls

Freshwater pearl cultivation started in China on 13th century and is still going strong to this day. The Chinese used to put premade shapes, for example like Buddha inside the mussel and nacre grew over it, and that's how pearl culturing started. The freshwater pearls grow in rivers, lakes and ponds inside the freshwater mussels. For a long time freshwater pearls were considered the 'ugly duckling' of the pearl family. The pearls were small in size (diameter 5mm, when saltwater pearls average diameter can be 10mm and up) and the luster wasn't that great, mostly dull. Most of the pearls were baroque shape, meaning uneven surface and a lot of blemishes (see picture for nr.11 and nr.12). As freshwater pearl is...

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