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Scientists are first to 'unlock' the mystery of creating cultured pearls from the queen conch
Date:11/3/2009

BOCA RATON, FL (November 4, 2009) For more than 25 years, all attempts at culturing pearls from the queen conch (Strombus gigas) have been unsuccessfuluntil now. For the first time, novel and proprietary seeding techniques to produce beaded (nucleated) and non-beaded cultured pearls from the queen conch have been developed by scientists from Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI). With less than two years of research and experimentation, Drs. Hctor Acosta-Salmn and Megan Davis, co-inventors, have produced more than 200 cultured pearls using the techniques they developed. Prior to this breakthrough, no high-quality queen conch pearl had been cultured. This discovery opens up a unique opportunity to introduce a new gem to the industry. This significant accomplishment is comparable to that of the Japanese in the 1920s when they commercially applied the original pearl culture techniques developed for pearl oysters.

HBOI has been working with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) to conduct extensive laboratory testing of the queen conch cultured pearls. In its independent analysis, GIA used techniques that included conventional gemological examination, chemical composition, spectroscopy, spectrometry and microscopy. HBOI and GIA plan to jointly publish the results of these trials in an upcoming issue of GIA's scientific journal, Gems & Gemology.

"This is a significant development for the pearl industry, and we were very excited to have the opportunity to closely examine these unique conch cultured pearls in our laboratory," said Tom Moses, senior vice president of the GIA Laboratory and Research. "Several of the pearls we examined are truly top-quality gems. With the equipment and expertise available at the GIA Laboratory, identification criteria are being compiled to separate queen conch cultured pearls from their natural counterparts."

Previous efforts to culture queen
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Contact: Gisele Galoustian
ggaloust@fau.edu
561-297-2010
Florida Atlantic University
Source:Eurekalert  

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