Head of Amsterdam Pearls Cees Van Oije invited me to visit Bangkok and to go around a sea pearls processing factory in the city.
This was a much bigger operation than the one I visited last year in China. It processed Akoya, South Sea and Tahitian pearls. Nevertheless the processes were just about identical. Pearls came in, were cleaned, sorted, drilled or not drilled, strung, graded and readied for the wholesale market.
Minutely tiny natural colours akoyas. It’s hard to see but some of these tiny tiny pearls were vivid blue
Imagine having to sort and assemble these tiny pearls into strands. Phew!
More tiny pearls
Sorting pearls using natural light from a north facing window
State of the art pearl drill. The cups are controlled by foot pedal and adjust to the correct pressure, both sides drill at once and when the cups release the pearl drops down a chute into a bowl
Pearls are made into strands using grooved boards and bamboo tweezers in front of a north facing window. The workday at the factory starts early to make the most of the north light
Tahitian pearls waiting to be sorted and graded
White South Sea pearls