Culturing a pearl within an oyster requires a great deal of time and dedication. First, a healthy mother oyster produces baby oysters. Paragon Pearls chooses oysters that have thick shells and beautiful interiors to be used for breeding. During the next two years, the baby oysters are nurtured with great care in large basket nets that are submerged in the seas. Upon maturity, the oysters are ready to be implanted with the nucleus.
Inserting the nucleus into the oyster is a very delicate process. A nucleus created from pig-toe shell (freshwater mussels found in the beds of the U.S. Mississippi River) in the shape of a round bead is inserted into the pearl oyster. The pig-toe shell has genetic properties similar to the Akoya oyster and therefore lowers the chances of being rejected by the oyster.
After insertion, the oysters are returned to the sea. They are submerged in wire-mesh baskets to protect them from natural enemies, and hung from long, floating rafts. The waters are monitored constantly and the rafts are often moved to protect the oysters from predators, extreme temperature changes, red tides and other afflictions. The oysters are left submerged, during which time the pearly substance, nacre, forms around the nucleus. Painstaking attention is devoted to the well-being of both the pearls and the oysters. Several times each year, the oyster baskets are lifted out of the water and the oysters are carefully cleaned of all clinging material, such as moss, seaweed, barnacles, parasites and other marine life, and submerged again.
After two to three years of careful cultivation, depending on size and quality desired, the pearls are harvested. The oyster is opened and a beautifully lustrous pearl is found inside. Not all pearls harvested will carry the Paragon Pearls name. As the Originator of Cultured Pearls, Paragon Pearls maintains the strictest quality standards.