The Jewels of Lake Biwa
Although the production of Chinese freshwater pearls can make them irrelevant, even Japan and the United States have taken a slice of the distribution market for their pearls that many customers.
In the early 30′, the Japanese successfully experience the cultivation of freshwater pearls giving rise to marketable crops of pearls from lake biwa, a large lake basin near Kyoto. These beads, a result of the Japanese efforts, had a sheen and striking a variety of colors unknown to the Chinese farmers. This type of beads contributed to the revitalization of freshwater pearls. For decades, the name associated with Biwa pearls was synonymous with good quality.
In the second half of the 90′, the producers more prominent tried to reinvigorate the pearl oyster production of this lake using the molluscs imported from Lake Kasumigaura (lake basin located near Tokyo where it was noted that the quality of the pearls was great).
The Pearl Farms
Cultured freshwater pearls
In China, companies that cultivate freshwater pearls are distributed throughout the territory, but the highest concentration of this activity is found in an area contained within a radius of 480 kilometers from shanghai. The lake tahihu, in whose waters began cultivating freshwater pearls (see definitions on InternetDict.com) more than seven centuries ago and where it is still practiced, is located west of Shanghai. The latter is located on the mouth of the Yangtse River, in whose plains, and in those of its tributaries, you do most of the Chinese pearl production.
The companies that cultivate freshwater pearls are significantly different from each other. There are many small, family-run business with a small number of shellfish suspended in networks that are derived from the recovery of plastic packaging materials and cultivated in the same areas where they breed fish. At the top are the large private companies, with acres of land where they grow tens of thousands of molluscs, placed in mesh panels suspended from cables sorted files that float through the support buoys.
Companies that cultivate pearls’ freshwater usually also they raise different types of fish, ducks, pigs, but also rice and soy are among the products provided by these multi-functional companies(each farm depends on and supports the other: rice rods used as feed for fish and shellfish, shells used as a fertilizer, etc.).
Care and Risks
Who produces freshwater pearls in China faces the same risks faced by producers of saltwater pearls, and, as they must perform regular maintenance similar to those of sea activities. Industrial pollution, atmospheric conditions and parasitic invasions can be a very serious threat.
Since many pearl farms allocated in floodplains, during long periods of thaw or rainfall, flooding may occur that flood the entire area destroying everything. In this case it is necessary to CLEAN UP the area to continue the culture (process generally implemented every 10-15 years).