Australian south sea pearls

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Paspaley's pioneering journey

1 February 2013

JNA & CJNA February

Paspaley’s pioneering journey

To most jewellery lovers, a single pearl’s origins are a source of mystery and wonder. For centuries, natural pearls have been desired for their beauty and rarity, but in recent decades, producers been able to replicate the natural process to culture pearls of singular perfection.
With a history of more than 75 years of dedication and innovation, Paspaley Pearling Company is one of the few companies with the experience, expertise and infrastructure to produce pearls of unsurpassed quality. A pearling pioneer synonymous with exquisite Australian South Sea pearls, Paspaley today supplies jewellery houses with the world’s most beautiful pearls, while maintaining its unrivalled commitment to quality and environmental stewardship.
The birth of an empire
In 1918, Nicholas Paspaley and his family left their native Greece and settled in remote north-western Australia, where the world’s richest pearl beds teemed with life and diving for mother-of-pearl for button manufacturing was a major industry. At age 18, Nick sailed his first pearling lugger into the unpredictable waters off the coast, armed with little more than a dream – coaxing the rare and sensitive Pinctada maxima oysters to produce South Sea pearls. His discovery of an exceptional natural pearl in the Cossack area in 1935 funded his pearling business.
Australia’s first pearl farms
Paspaley’s pioneering spirit gave birth to Australia’s first pearl farm in 1956. Hidden among the rugged coastline of Western Australia’s Kimberley region, Kuri Bay’s pristine waters sheltered the giant Pinctada maxima oysters and enabled Australia’s first pearl farmers to produce organic gems of outstanding quality. In 1962, Paspaley opened its second farm at Knocker Bay in the Northern Territory's Cobourg Peninsula. Today, the company operates 22 farms, dotted along 2500km of coastline.
There, dedicated teams of divers and technicians nurture the giant oysters for as long as eight years in order to produce exquisite pearls. A combination of pristine environmental conditions, meticulous quality control and constant innovation have earned Paspaley Pearling Company an international reputation second to none.
The world’s first purpose built pearling vessels
The 1970s brought new milestones, including the MV Paspaley Pearl, a 29-metre fibreglass-hulled pearling vessel which was the world’s most modern at the time of its unveiling in 1974. This feat was superseded by the 33.5-metre MV Paspaley II, which was purpose-built in Japan in 1981; the 45-metre MV Paspaley III, released in 1989; and the 52-metre MV Paspaley IV, which today continues to navigate the Australian waters.
These floating laboratories have revolutionised pearl culturing and heralded a new era of diver safety. No longer is it necessary for oysters to be removed from their native habitat for cleaning and treatment; rather, pearl technicians can now be taken to the oysters, minimising the time they are out of the water and greatly decreasing the risk of trauma.
The legacy lives on
Paspaley’s innovations have contributed immensely to Australia’s pearling industry, which today supplies most of the global demand for cultured South Sea pearls. Its commitment to investing in infrastructure, technology, time and the best talent in the field represent the unparalleled efforts the pioneering company is taking to produce the world’s finest quality pearls.
For more information on Australian South Sea pearls, Paspaley Pearling Company has created a website, set to launch within the coming months. Email  for an alert upon launch.
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