Tuamotu/Rangiroa: Gauguin’s Pearl Farm
Tuamotu Archipelago produces most precious and beautiful black pearls. The lagoon water is clear, its temperature is stable, and the salinity is constant since there is no mountains or rivers on the flat sandy coral atolls. At the Gaughen Pearl Farm on Rangiroa atoll you get to see all the stages of the black pearl production and can almost be part of it – you can see how a technician implants the white beads (sourced from the Mississippi clams and cut in Japan) into an oyster shell together with a tissue from another oyster that is known for most colorful “mother of pearl” variation. You can see the pearls harvested (and I actually got to harvest one myself, squeezing a round black pearl from a live oyster). Oysters that produce pearls that are not perfect are no longer used but they are edible and quite delicious (normally not part of the tour but I had to ask to try it – very meaty taste and unlike a normal oyster). And finally you get to see all the sorting and classifying of the final pearls – by roundness, purity, shine, and size – ranging from $20 to $thousands in price!