While in Savusavu I was invited to J.Hunter Pearl’s Farm & HQ for a little tour and to learn more on these divine little gems. If you haven’t yet heard of J.Hunter Pearl’s… OMG! Here is a little history.
Pearling in Fiji – and the Pacific – owes a lot to two Japanese gentlemen Mr. Tokito and Mr. Wada, who arrived in the 1960s to set up a pearl farm off the island of Ovalau, the site of Fiji’s first capital Levuka. Mr. Wada, a pearling technican by trade, left soon after for French Polynesia, where he was instrumental in starting the first pearl farm. Mr. Tokito remained in Fiji, where his family still farms pearls to this day.
Some three decades later, Justin Hunter returned home to Fiji from the United States to establish J. Hunter Pearls Fiji in 1999. “The idea was to produce pearls in beautifully distinctive hues and that were also larger than what was traditionally grown,” he says. Today, despite a small yearly output, those pearls have put the brand – as well as Fiji – on the world pearling map.
The showroom is located just on the skirts of Savusavu town. An easy stroll, but a taxi will drop you there no worries. The tour begins in the the showroom with a presentation on the history of the cultured pearl, the process of implanting the oyster shell, the farming process and the grading of the pearls. It was hard to listen into with all the glitz you were surrounded by.
The unique colour of these pearls comes from the humble host, the black lip pearl oyster (Pinctada margaritifera). The black lip pearl oyster comes in a wide array of naturally striking colours found on the shells and the actual body of the oyster. The colour of the oyster, will result in a matching coloured pearl. Warm hues of gold, copper, champagne, pistachio, cranberry, and chocolate and the cool hue palette is made up of deep blues and vibrant greens are what you will find at J.Hunter.
Seeing in them in person was truly stunning!
The next part of the tour was to head out to the farms, those little dots in the water you see below. Cruising along the water we soon arrived to the farm where the pearl oysters are suspended on 200 metre long lines that run 3 – 5 metres below the ocean’s surface.
We pulled up alongside one of the cleaning platforms where we observed farm workers cleaning and checking on the health of juvenile and adult oysters. This is done every so often to ensure the health of the oyster during the pearl growing process.
While we were there, we had the option to jump in for a snorkel and see the suspended in the water below along with the wealth of marine life.
J.Hunter Pearls prides itself on the protection and preservation of the natural environment in Savusavu, and I give them big props for that. Not only is it important for them and the harvesting of the pearls but also the added benefit of increasing fish stocks for local communities, who rely on fisheries for food and income.
Once those who remembered to bring their gear had a snorkel, we headed back to the showroom where I was super tempted to indulge myself on some luscious pearls. Unfortunately the dollar tree couldn’t help me there, but there is always next time 😉
Farm tours cost $25 Fijian per person and run twice daily at 9.30am and 1.30pm from Monday to Friday. Bookings can be made through your resort or at our Showroom (679 8850-821).
If you choose to snorkel be sure to bring your own gear!