COMMENTARY – A challenge to the expression “cultured pearls”

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COMMENTARY – A challenge to the expression “cultured pearls”

By David Brough

BAHRAIN, November 2019 – The term “cultured pearls” may need to be replaced by “farmed pearls” in order to protect consumers.

The 2019 CIBJO-World Jewellery Confederation Congress in Bahrain this month heard a challenge for “cultured” pearls to be called “farmed” instead, amid sentiment that a widespread usage of the expression “cultured diamonds”, for laboratory-grown diamonds, could lead to a misunderstanding of cultured pearls.

COMMENTARY – A challenge to the expression “cultured pearls”

The 2019 CIBJO Congress took place in Bahrain

“’Cultured’ diamonds are grown in laboratories; cultured pearls are grown on pearl farms in some of the most pristine, beautiful places on the planet, and so the consumer perception is rapidly starting to shift,” Jeremy Shepherd, a pearl entrepreneur representing the Cultured Pearl Association of America, said.

“It creates a negative environment around our industry.”

He added: “We’d like to start using the term ‘farmed’. We just want to go back to the original meaning of the word ‘aquaculture’, which is ‘farmed’ – farmed in water.”

Farmers who grow pearls using sustainable practices should be able to refer to their product as “sustainably farmed pearls”, Shepherd said.

Their standards should encourage other farmers to engage in sustainable methods.

The pearl industry in the United States will consider this proposed nomenclature, and CIBJO will mull the issue in the coming months.