The magic in the name Tahiti has established itself through the centuries on a pedestal of Occidental written and oral tradition. It began as long ago as the arrival of Bougainville on the island, and it has glorified this region until it has become the incarnation of the terrestrial Paradise.
Among the most powerful symbols of this Eden are the myths created by its eminent chroniclers. The "vahine", the colors (thanks to Gauguin), liberty (in the wake of the mutineers on the Bounty) or, more simply, the natural beauty (what travel agency wall is not decorated with a poster representing a beach hemmed by coconut trees?) -- each has contributed to the overall image of a terrestrial Paradise.
Some years back, another ingredient was added to this critical alchemy, and not just anything, considering that it started women dreaming around the world: the black pearl of Tahiti. This new ingredient seems the synthesis of all the preceding myths. The beauty, the colors, and the magic of the South Seas are all to be found in the few millimeters of these spheres of aragonite, little worlds or perfect small planets...
"Fly's wing", "eggplant", an intense gray or black, the black pearl is already inseparable from our Polynesian archipelagos, the only ones on earth to produce this most prestigious jewel of the sea. No coral, be it black or red, no other pearl, be it the size of a marble, is the equal of the sumptuous gems enclosed in the lagoons of French Polynesia. It is the purpose of this book to lead you to discover the world of the black pearl of Tahiti, to succumb to its charms with a full knowledge of its story...

The earliest known stones date to the time of our distant ancestors, the Neanderthals, who were the first to gather unusual round stones, pieces of bone and sea shells, to pierce them and to use them as adornment.
Still in prehistoric times, Homo sapiens, was also fascinated by the beads that he made from egg shells or semi-precious stones, vaguely round, gathered in the rivers -- agate, turquoise, lapis-lazuli.
Later, in Chinese, Indian, Persian, Greek or Roman antiquity, the pearl, itself, grew in value primarily because of its shape, round and perfect, and its orient, if it was iridescent. Its Latin name, "unio", came from the fact that, to the Romans, no two were alike. Each pearl was unique.
The Old Testament refers to the price of these jewels of which the oldest to have come down to us is a three strand necklace, once the property of a Persian princess of the year 350 BC. Then, pearls were gathered from the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the waters around Ceylon, and worn with maximum ostentation during the opulent hours of the Roman Empire, until its decline. The discovery of the New World and the pearls of the Gulf of Mexico (beds of Margarita oysters) brought them back into fashion.

Since long ago, doubtless since humanity's beginnings, the pearl has aroused curiosity as much as admiration. If the veins of schist or the alluvial fans parsimoniously surrender their emeralds, sapphires or rubies, they are only rough stones, "rocks" requiring all the skills of the lapidary to acquire their fire.
The pearl, on the contrary, is offered to man by the oyster, or nacre, in all its splendor. There is nothing else to do `but to hold it in the hollow of the hand and open the eyes wide. It is only normal that such a prodigy raised many questions among our ancestors who palliated their lack of scientific precision with an innate sense of poetry.
The ancient Chinese believed that pearls were conceived in the brains of dragons. Hindu writers link them to clouds, elephants, snakes, wild boars, fish and, occasionally, merely to oysters, themselves.
Later, the gods were held to be the fathers of pearls. Closer to reality, the Greeks and Romans thought that the pearl was created in an oyster thanks to a drop of rain or dew that penetrated between the two valves. The Persians held to the same belief. If a pearl was deformed, it was seen as celestial intervention in the form of thunder. Crystallized dewdrops, seeds celestial or divine? Other versions, even more colorful, have pearls being created by the meeting of a rainbow and the earth.
In the Orient again, one associates the pearl with tears: the tears of angels, sirens, mythical naiads where pain and suffering are occasionally intimately entangled with love and bliss.
In Ceylon, the most touching legend is that which tells how Adam and Eve mourned Abel for a long time. Their tears, gathered to form a lake, gave birth to pearls. Another variation recounts that from the tears shed by Eve after the Original Sin were born white and rose colored pearls. From the tears of Adam were born gray and black pearls, even more rare and precious, as man knows better how to control his chagrin.
Divine or natural, the birth of the pearl always has been synonymous with purity. This was so true that certain ecclesiastics of days gone by saw in the mysterious genesis of the pearl divine intervention of the same type as... Immaculate Conception!

In the heart of the immense blue continent that is the Pacific Ocean are scattered the pearl islands, built of lava and coral, that are French Polynesia.
The land, or rather the lands, here are no more than minute punctuation marks in the ode that the waves compose to the glory of this vast ocean.
All, proud volcanoes or simple coral rings, are no more than tiny concessions made by the sea to the graceful migratory birds and the sea turtles that are able to rest and nest in the shade of the coconut trees. Man, much later, followed the flights of the birds aboard his large double canoes. Charmed by the marriage of the land and the sea, solemnized by the golden band of the coral barrier enclosing the lagoon, he never left.
Everything here is fragile, beginning with the islands, themselves. They are born of spectacular volcanic explosions, only to finish swallowed up forever as if dissolved in and by the cerulean blue.
When it bursts through the ocean floor, the still smoldering island picks up its scars in imposing its mass of basalt on the passions of the sea.. Carried by the ocean currents, the coral larvae attach themselves to its periphery, building, little by little, a fringing pavement of calcareous rock.
Violated by the volcano, the ocean has its revenge, with the complicity of the mother earth. The island sinks under its own weight and finishes by settling back into the depths of the magma, slowly, at geological speeds, measured in millions of years.
The coral, on the other hand, that which has clung so tenaciously to the rocky circumference of the island, being unable to live without sunlight, is condemned to grow. It soon forms a barrier between the rock and the immutable sea. Thus are born the lagoons whose aureoles retain a record of the island's dimensions on the first days of its creation.
The more recent the island, the smaller is its lagoon. The older the island is, the larger its lagoon. It is in this manner that the oases of the South Seas live and die, slowly consumed. Before completely disappearing, they remain for a time as a memory posed, seemingly afloat, on the ocean's surface. Seen from the sky, they appear as simple and fragile rings of coral, the atolls. They show no trace of their volcanic origin, appearing as narrow bands of coconut palms enclosing their lagoons, those parcels of the sea that man has domesticated with the growing therein of the large pearl oysters.

All shells do not produce pearls, but a considerable number of bivalves (dozens of species of oysters and mussels) can produce pearls of at least a reasonable quality. It is in this way that even the mussels grown to delight some gourmet's palate can produce a minute, dark yellow pearl, just as the large tridacna clams of the tropical seas manage to produce "marbles", albeit without esthetic interest.
The most famous of the pearl producing bivalves is Pinctada fucata (also called akoya), to which is owed the traditional white pearls of Japan. This mollusc is found in the temperate and cool seas of Asia (Japan, China and Korea).
A fresh water bivalve of small size, easily grown in Asia, Hyriopsis schegeli, today allows the Japanese, and, even more, the Chinese, to inundate the market for small pearls at low prices. Varying widely in color, these pearls run from a creamy white to pink, passing through shades of golden yellow.
Pinctada margaritifera is the large nacre that produces the black pearl of Tahiti, a nacre that one finds throughout the tropical Pacific. An adult nacre (life expectancy: 15 to 30 years) can weigh up to five kilos.
Pinctada maxima is the largest of all. Cousin of the Pinctada margaritifera, it can weigh well over 5 kilos, and it produces the highly regarded "South Sea Pearls". It is found primarily in the waters off Southeast Asia and in the seas off Broome, in Australia (gleaming cream, pink and pale yellow).
Another very beautiful nacre, with a wing-like shape to its shell, known for the fabrication of "mabe", is the Pteria penguin, common in Asian seas, particularly in the waters around Phuket in Thailand.
Pinctada maculata: usually called by its better known Polynesian name of "pipi", a small nacre producing tiny golden pearls, the "poe pipi". A mini-nacre compared to the Pinctada margaritifera, it lives in the same biotope.

The "pearl oyster" of French Polynesia is a misnomer as the animal, Pinctada margaritifera, to use its Latin name, is a large nacre of the family Pteriidae, know around the world for the quality of its nacreous secretion . Pinctada margaritifera, which we will call nacre for simplicity's sake, is classed with the giant shells of tropical seas, An individual adult can attain a diameter of 30 cm and a weight of over five kilos. Certain specimens of this nacre, also nicknamed "black lipped pearl oyster" have been known, occasionally, to reach a weight of nine kilos.
The nacre develop essentially in the lagoons, but they are also found on the ocean side of the reef. In the Marquesas, for example, where the islands are not hemmed around by lagoons, the nacre grows wild, attaching it self to the rocks. Because of the rather rustic living conditions, it does not grow to any size there, as it would do in a calm lagoon.
A particularity of the Pinctada is its sex changes during the course of its life, changes that also can be prompted by stress.
We know today that during the time of the female cycle, the nacre lays eggs all year long, with two peak periods falling at the changes of season. A nacre must be two or three years oldbefore it is capable of reproduction. Only the extraordinary quantity of eggs deposited by these bivalves (tens of millions per specimen), can assure the survival of the species in its natural habitat. The spermatozoon, to fertilize an egg, must depend on a chance encounter.
Next, the larvae are the prey of all animals feeding on plankton. Finally, the shell, while it is still young is the target of numerous carnivores particularly the triggerfish, dreaded by the pearl growers.
Fragile, Pinctada margaritifera demands constant care from those who have taken up the challenge to raise them.

A Japanese named Kokichi Mikimoto is generally recognized as the inventor of the grafting technique that permits forcing a nacre to produce a pearl more or less on demand. The first cultured pearl (a mabe, as it happens) was harvested on 11 July, 1893 in Ago Bay, Japan. However, historians tend to credit another Japanese, Tatsuhei Mise, who obtained the first round cultured pearl in 1904, as the father of this art. Still another Japanese, Tokishi Nishikawa, discovered the secret practically at the same time, but both were obliged to wait several years for their techniques to become officially recognized. The two licenses of Mise and Nishikawa were registered in 1907. In 1908, Mikimoto filed his patent, and the three documents became in a sense the birth certificates of the grafting technique.
The outmoded technique of Mikimoto consisted of wrapping a small artificial nucleus in a piece of nacre flesh and sliding the sizable lump into another "oyster".
This procedure proved rather heavy-handed and a traumatic piece of surgery for the nacre when this important foreign body was inserted in the organism. For this reason, the mortality rate was quite high. The more delicate techniques that consist of introducing only the nucleus and minute slip prevailed rapidly. In this sense, Mise and Nishikawa were in the right, as they were the developers of this technique. However, their colleague had the merit of a rapid understanding of the market to be exploited. It was Mikimoto who was the real promoter of cultured pearls, first in Japan and afterward throughout the world. Incidentally, beginning in 1914, Kokichi Mikimoto undertook avant-garde research on a nacre but little known at the time, the...Pinctada margaritifera.
Basically, what is the difference between a "fine pearl" and a cultured pearl?
By "fine pearl", one designates a small sphere of calcium carbonate, more precisely aragonite, formed by a bivalve confronted by a foreign body accidentally introduced into its tissues. This intruder can be a simple grain of sand, or a small particle of almost anything that bothers the animal. When this happens the nacre, in a defensive reaction, begins secreting a thin coat of aragonite, a material that is the same as that of its shell, around the intruder. This secretion is produced while the foreign body is kept in constant rotation and becomes isolated by hardened layers of this secretion, whence comes the pearl's generally rounded shape.
The cultured pearl is, on the contrary, the fruit of the intervention of a human being on a bivalve. It is the grafter who artificially introduces an intruder into the animal. The object is to constrain the nacre to start his defense procedures working to isolate this foreign body by drowning it in aragonite. The bead introduced artificially is called a nucleus, and, usually, one must add to it a tiny slip of the mantle of another nacre. It is with the insertion of this minute addition that the secretion of the aragonite begins.
If pearls and shells reflect and refract light so differently, it is simply because the secretion is spread in one case spherically, and in the other, horizontally. This stacking up of thin layers of aragonite (there are about a thousand coats in a pearl of quality) permits light, sunlight or artificial light, to play on the micro-crystals of aragonite, determining what is called the orient of a pearl.
Without delving too deeply into technique, one should remember that a "fine pearl" and a cultured pearl are both "natural" pearls, produced by a bivalve. There is never a question of "artificial pearls" produced without the intervention of the natural process of elaboration of the nacre. The essential difference between fine pearl and cultured pearl is that the latter has a nucleus. Moreover the nucleus is readily visible under X-ray when a pearl owner has doubts. If, as concerns antique jewelry, doubt is often justified, it should be mentioned that, on today's world market, the "fine pearl" has nearly disappeared.

Frequently, one hears allusion to "pearl oysters". This is a misnomer at best, as the molluscs making the pearls in French Polynesia that are destined for jewelry are large nacres, taxonomically Pinctada margaritifera.
From earliest times, these nacres were used by the Polynesians, the first colonizers of the islands of the South Seas. The shells had utilitarian value, certainly, but they were also highly regarded for their ornamental and decorative worth. It was with them that ancient costumes were decorated with large, highly polished nacres, shimmering bronze and iridescent, which added without doubt to the majesty of those who wore them.. It is a fact that, throughout their history, the nacres have always interested man. This enthusiasm was not for the pearl they might enclose (one pearl for 15,000 nacres, it was said) but for the beauty of the shells.
After the ancestral ornaments, shirt buttons and a mass of other uses were found for the nacre (inlay work, keys and frets of musical instruments, etc.).From the beginning of the 19th century, the archives of Polynesia make mention of a harvest of nacres. The first ship recorded as participating in this commerce was the "Margaret", carrying a cargo of shells between the Gambiers and Australia in 1802. With the demand constantly increasing, the number of ships plying this trade to San Francisco, Valparaiso or Sydney multiplied for decades in perfect anarchy. Only around the end of the century did the French administration move to control this unrestricted traffic.
At a cost of a piece of yard goods or a few of the knickknacks of modern society -- a knife, wire or a sack of rice -- it was easy, at the time, to acquire tons of shells. Moreover, this harvesting, in reality more of a raid, with no real effort made to manage the natural reserves, continued until after World War II.
Yet, already in 1870, Dr. Bouchon-Brandely, sent from France to make a study of this primary resource, sounded the alarm in predicting that the lagoons would finish by becoming deserts. Whereas, at the beginning of the 19th century, certain visitors stated that one had difficulty walking in the shallow water, so vast was the number of nacres with their sharp-edged shells. By the beginning of the following century, it had become necessary for the divers to go deeper and deeper to find nacres of an acceptable size.
At the time, an entire folklore was born around the diving campaigns. The divers descended occasionally more than 40 m, ballasted by an eight kilo piece of lead on a line. A pair of diving goggles , a glove and a basket net constituted the only equipment of these adventurers. They had to be constantly on the lookout for large moray eels and sharks, as well as straight diving accidents. The infamous "vana taravana", which caused a diver to lose his reason, was an all too common occurrence.
With highs and lows, both in production and price, what was called "pearl shell diving" continued into the sixties, even though the invention of plastic buttons had sounded the death knell for this occupation.
Before World War I, the annual harvest of shell rarely surpassed 600 tons. Between the two Great Wars, the annual harvest averaged more than 1200 tons (1350 tons in 1924: the predecessor of today's dive mask, extremely efficient water-tight diving glasses having been invented). It dropped back down to less than 1000 tons after World War II (500/800 tons per year), finally ending in 1979 with ... two tons. The Tuamotu and Gambier archipelagos were systematically controlled. The depletion of the resource imposed several tight restrictions. Quotas per atoll, severely limited diving seasons, years of rest (one diving season every four years) and broad sectors where no diving was permitted, genuine reserves, became the strictly enforced rules of the game.
Faced with this dramatic impoverishment, from the beginning of the 20th century, experiments, not in reproduction but in the collecting of "baby nacres", the newly spawned, were carried out. Unfortunately, the uncontrolled pillage still brought in enough shell so that general indifference carried the day.
In 1954, the urgency of the situation was such that the Fisheries Service decided all the same to comply with the recommendations made by preceding specialists. The collecting of the spat of the nacres on supports (usually on bundles of sticks of miki miki, a small bush native to the Paumotu shores) was started again on several atolls. If the results were never extraordinary, on can affirm all the same that this work, although rather empirical, saved the species from complete disappearance.
Since it was not a question directly concerning the gathering of the shells, the collecting of the nacre spawn aroused no enthusiasm among those who earned their livings from nacre. Because it supposed a medium term planning, the whole idea was at odds with local tradition. Fortunately, this modest maintenance of the resource made possible, in the 1970s, the mobilization of available forces to increase the number of nacres, thus meeting the challenge of the potential of perliculture.
Pinctada margaritifera came very close to extinction. Thanks only to the obstinacy of the research workers, rarely helped or recognized in the first decades of this century, these precious bivalves can today be counted in millions of individuals ... Because of the heedless collecting of the shells, the black pearl very nearly missed seeing the light of day... Takapoto, Manihi, the Gambiers, Marutea are the atolls where the collecting of the spat gave excellent results, thus permitting the re-launching of pearl growing activities. This was possible only because the natural stocks of nacres had not been completely exhausted. It was a very close call, nonetheless!
In 1995, 484 tons of pearl shell were exported for a total value of 1,5 million EURO.

The salvage of the last living nacres in the Tuamotu lagoons coincided with a quickening of interest in the pearl that Pinctada margaritifera produced in times past, albeit very rarely. The ancient Polynesians, moreover, unable to work with or pierce these natural curiosities, accorded them little value.
Jean Domard, a veterinarian by profession, and endowed with a well-developed curiosity, took up the work of his predecessors, and, in the early sixties, visited Japan, there to study exhaustively the Japanese grafting techniques. Appointed director of the Fisheries Service in Tahiti, he rapidly became convinced that exceptional pearls could be obtained from the grafting of the large Polynesian nacres. He worked at his idea with total dedication, and, in 1965, he made his first test harvest. The cultured Polynesian black pearls saw the light of day for the first time, a light that was eclipsed by their sumptuous orient. Jean Domard succeeded, thanks to a Japanese pearl grafter that he had had the wisdom to bring in from Australia, after having suffered a number of failures trying to do his own grafting.
However, the general public was not ready to recognize and profit from the fabulous opportunity offered to all Polynesia.
A local journalist, Koko Chaze, adventurous and enterprising, crossed the path of Domard and plunged, for starters, into the production of half pearls. Koko then established himself on the atoll of Manihi and made his first harvest just one year later.
During that same period, a family of Parisian jewelers, the Rosenthals saw Jean Domard's first collection. The father had them recognized by the Gemnological Institute of America, and his two sons became the business associates of Koko.
In 1970, our three "farmers" undertook their first production of round pearls, a wager that they would win.
Other courageous pioneers -- Paul Yu, Dr. Jean-Paul Lintilhac, an esthetic surgeon, Jean-Pierre Fourcade, Yves Tchen Pan (who introduced pearl culture to the Cook Islands), Jean Tapu (former world champion spear fisherman), Jean-Claude Brouillet (founder of Air Gabon) and, finally, Robert Wan, nicknamed "the emperor of the black pearl". Robert, as he is called familiarly by friends and associates, reigns over three immense pearl farms in the Gambier Islands. He also owns the atoll of Marutea Sud (with three other farms), the atoll of Nengo Nengo (one farm), and Anuraro (one farm). He is also implanted on Fakarava (one farm), Manihi (one farm) and Katiu (one farm).
In years past, he has weighed in up to 70% of the pearl production of all French Polynesia. Even today, he harvests over 50% of all the black pearls produced in the territory.
Another pioneer merits mention for his dynamism and ardor in promoting the Polynesian black pearl. Salvador J. Assaël, is a New York gem wholesaler, not a pearl farmer. He is one of those who succeeds in imposing these gems of the South Seas on the most prestigious jewelers in the world, from Manhattan to the Place Vendome in Paris.

The success of the early pioneers of Polynesian pearl culture produced simultaneously the envious and the emulators. In reality, pearl culture literally breathed new life into certain of the Tuamotu atolls. Before the development of this new activity, the severely depressed economies of these remote islands encouraged their inhabitants to decamp to the bright lights and employment potential of Papeete.
The exciting potential of this new bonanza proved to be the saving grace, for example, of Takaroa and Takapoto in the Northern Tuamotu.This was equally so in numerous other atolls where the number of requests for maritime concessions necessary for the installation of a pearl farm virtually exploded in the eighties. Hikueru, Fakarava, Kauehi, Makemo, Anaa ... today, a large number of atolls have concentrated most of their energies to produce black pearls. The end of the period of trial and error at the technical level, and with prices at their highest, everything came together to send the requests for maritime concessions to a series of record highs. More than 800 requests were received at the end of the eighties and more than 2000 in 1990 and in 1991.
The machine began to run at top speed, and, on certain highly coveted atolls, such as Takapoto, occasional brawls broke out between established farmers and the new arrivals.
Collecting, in the lagoons that lend themselves to this practice, and grafting are two very distinct aspects of this industry as, if certain lagoons adapt particularly well to the production of pearls, they are sometimes poor in nacre reproduction. Because of this, there are incessant transfers of young nacres, by plane and by ship, among the Tuamotu atolls, operations which are not without risk to the ecological balance of the lagoons. Epidemic diseases are spread, and the mortality rate is occasionally very high in the colonies of nacres, before or after their grafting, because of one or another virus too quickly overrunning an area.
This unbridled competition among the pearl farmers caused, logically, a disorganization of the market. There were too many small producers, often deeply in debt, all forced to sell their production at the same time, to the same limited number of buyers. Further, their pearls were often of a mediocre quality.
The laws of the marketplace quickly began to re-establish the equilibrium of the situation, and a number of pearl farm experiments ended in total failure.
The official statistics of 1996 concerning the number of maritime concessions granted show only 2,010 collecting concessions, 1603 farming concessions and 1328 grafting concessions were authorised during this year. However, all these concessions do not necessarily conceal producing pearl farms behind what is merely administrative paper work.. Finally, the bulk of the farms resulting from these concessions englobe, each one, all three concessions and all three activities. Nonetheless, one can consider that there are more than 1,000 functioning pearl farms, essentially in the Tuamotu and Gambier lagoons.
Recently, in the nineties, the Society Islands, particularly Maupiti and Tahaa, have, in turn, launched into this activity. Because of this, one sees today the little "fare greffe", or grafting houses, set on slender pilings and with their corrugated iron roofs, in the lagoons of these islands. On the other hand, the Austral islands do not seem propitious to pearl farming. This also holds true of the Marquesas where their coasts, unprotected by barrier reefs do not lend themselves to this commerce. Even so, the Pinctada margaritifera are found in small numbers, clinging to the coastal rocks in relatively shallow water.
The GIE Perles de Tahiti kindly offered us their statistics on black pearl exports from French Polynesia over the past few years.

Robert Wan: Today, his name is part of the legend of the black pearl. With his warm smile and iron fist, he had to learn to perform every function involved in the production of black pearls to succeed in such a striking manner. For him, all began modestly in the Gambier.
In 1973/74, Mr. Stein of the Fisheries Service pushed him in the wake of the first pioneers. Robert Wan was convinced that this new activity, at the time developing slowly and erratically, held great promise. His meeting in Japan with Mr. Sato, an 80 year old professor and a friend of Mikimoto, decided him.William Reed had created "Tahiti Perles" in the Gambier Islands. Robert Wan bought the young company in 1974 and began his first grafts in 1975. The early results were not brilliant. Twenty thousand nacres were grafted and, two years later, the harvest yielded barely 1,700 pearls.
Robert Wan is not a dreamer but a businessperson. There, where others would have been discouraged, he persevered, he persisted, he fought. "I am stubborn", he said. His obstinacy paid off, as, in 1979, his enterprise finally moved firmly into the black. He could have been satisfied with sitting back and counting his profits, but he preferred to reinvest everything in the business, on both the technical and the commercial sides. "I live 100% of my time for the pearls." In 1984, he bought the atoll of Anuraro. Then, when Jean Claude Brouillet, after being battered by two terrible cyclones, decided to retire, Robert Wan bought his island of Marutea in 1985. Some time later, he bought the atoll of Nengo Nengo. This was followed by the purchase of several other pearl farms on various atolls. A workaholic in every sense of the word, he is as much at home in his office, juggling fax, telephone and time zones around the world as he is on one of his farms, feet in the water, nacre in his hand.
One must always innovate, and, in addition, one must win the most difficult battle, that of the world markets. Robert Wan attacked the Japanese market, while Jean Claude Brouillet assaulted the United States. The synergy of these marketing efforts consolidated the lead position of "Tahiti Perles". This does not prevent Robert Wan telling, with humor and humility, of his first sales where the prices he received were not a quarter of the prices he anticipated.
Optimist by nature, his strength also comes from his sense of the realities of life. It is said that he is vigilant and mistrustful. In every case, he is attentive, because "the cultured pearl is very costly to produce". He is the first, the biggest, certainly, with more than half of all the pearls of French Polynesia, but without ever giving the impression of being at the top of the ladder. Robert Wan has fought the battle of the black pearl every day for the past two decades. He continues to do so today with the same faith, the same convictions, the same passion because, as he admits quite freely, "I love pearls".



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