• Short Summary

    The pearl -- its lustrous beauty valued by man over thousands of years. Such a?

  • Description

    The pearl -- its lustrous beauty valued by man over thousands of years. Such a display would be the envy of jewellers in any of the big cities of the world; but this story is from a small island off the eastern tip of the Papua New Guinea mainland. Its from there that Gary Scully reports.

    OF ALL THE GEMS MANKIND HAS USED FOR SELF ADORNMENT, THE PEARL IS THE ONLY ONE CREATED BY A LIVING ANIMAL. OVER THE CENTURIES DIVERS HAVE LIFTED HUGE QUANTITIES OF SHELL, GAMBLING TO FIND PEARLS BY CHANCE. BUT NOT DENNIS GEORGE WHO RUNS THIS PEARLING OPERATION FROM THE TINY ISLAND OF SERIBA, NEAR SAMARAI AT THE TIP OF MILNE BAY.

    HIS PEARLS ARE HOME-GROWN -- HE'S A PEARL FARMER -- ONCE AUSTRALIA'S FOREMOST EXPERT IN PEARL CULTIVATION; NOW TEACHING HIS CRAFT TO PEOPLE FROM THE ISLANDS NEAR HIS HOME.

    SHELLS ARE TAKEN HERE, NOT ON THE CHANCE OF FINDING PEARLS, BUT IN THE CERTAINTY OF MAKING THEM. WHEN DENNIS GEORGE MIGRATED TO SYDNEY FROM GREECE NEARLY THIRTY YEARS AGO, STILL TROUBLED BY WAR INJURIES, HIS FIRST JOB WAS DISHWASHER IN A MARTIN PLACE MILK BAR. AS HE GROPED FOR A NEW LIFE IN A NEW COUNTRY, TALES OF THE PEARLING INDUSTRY FAR TO THE NORTH GRIPPED HIS IMAGINATION.

    DIVERS BRINGING WEALTH FROM THE DEPTHS OF THE CORAL SEA; LUGGERS WORKING THE UNDERWATER PEARL BEDS FREE OF THE CLAMOUR AND RUSH OF THE CITY. HE SPENT HOURS STUDYING IN SYDNEY LIBRARIES, THEN BEGAN HIS OWN EXPERIMENTS IN PEARL CULTURE.

    TODAY THE METHODS HE PERFECTED ARE HELPING THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY ISLANDERS IN THE MILNE BAY PEARL ASSOCIATION, TO FORM A NEW INDUSTRY POTENTIALLY VALUABLE TO THE NEW NATION OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA.

    THIS IS HOW IT WORKS. THE BIG PEARL OYSTERS, BROUGHT UP FROM WATERS AS DEEP AS TWENTY FATHOMS IN THE CHINA STRAITS ARE FIRST CAREFULLY OPENED. THE SHELL MUST BE UNDAMAGED, THE ANIMAL INSIDE KEPT ALIVE AND WELL, BECAUSE IT'S THE OYSTER THAT WILL BE THE ULTIMATE PRODUCER. A WOODEN PLUG KEEPS THE SHELL OPEN AND BARES THE LINING INSIDE FOR THE NEXT DELICATE STAGE OF THE OPERATION THE CRITICAL STAGE THAT WILL TRANSFORM THE OYSTER INTO AN ANIMAL CAPABLE OF PRODUCING WEALTH FOR MAN.

    A PEARL IS THE PRODUCT OF AN IRRITATED OYST IT TENDS TO FORM A PROTECTIVE COATING OVER A FOREIGN BODY LODGING IN ITS CLOSED WORLD. THESE PLASTIC BEADS WILL BE THE LODGERS.

    THE USE OF RESIN, HEATED WITH A HOT IRON TO FIX THE PLASTIC NUCLEI INSIDE THE SHELL. THEY WAS ONE OF THE TECHNIQUES PERFECTED BY DENNIS GEORGE TO IMPROVE ON JAPANESE METHODS OF PEARL CULTURE. JAPANESE TECHNICIANS INITIALLY TIED IN THE NUCLEI THROUGH HOLES DRILLED IN THE SHELL, SINCE ADOPTED A GLUE BUT IT TAKES FIFTEEN MINUTES TO DRY.

    DENNIS GEORGE ALSO PIONEERED THE USE OF PLASTIC TO REPLACE THE SOAPSTONE BEADS INITIALLY USED BY THE JAPANESE. THE HEMISPHERICAL NUCLEI ARE MADE IN AUSTRALIA FROM MELANINE BASED PLASTIC, TO DENNIS GEORGE'S OWN SPECIFICATIONS.

    THE INNOVATIONS MADE FOR SIMPLIFIED TECHNIQUES AND MUCH CHEAPER PRODUCT COSTS; BOTH IMPORTANT TO AN INDUSTRY COMPETING AGAINST THE JAPANESE PIONEERS OF PEARL CULTURE.

    AT THIS STAGE THE OYSTERS, WITH THE LODGING PEARL SEEDS IMPLANTED, ARE READY TO GO BACK TO THEIR OWN ENVIRONMENT. SPREAD ON TRAYS THEY'RE TAKEN OUT TO A PLATFORM BUILT OVER THE CLEAR WATERS OF THE BAY OFF SERIBA ISLAND AND GENTLY LOWERED IN.

    THE OYSTERS WILL SPEND AS LONG AS A YEAR IN THE WATERS HERE, COATING THE SEEDS OF PLASTIC INSIDE THEM IN CONCENTRIC LAYERS WITH THE FORM OF CALCIUM CARBONATE KNOWN AS ARAGONITE - THE MATERIAL OF THE PEARL.

    WHEN THE SHELLS ARE FINALLY TAKEN FROM THE WATER THE OYSTERS HAVE DONE THEIR WORK, BUT THERE'S STILL A DEAL OF PREPARATION TO BE DONE -- CAREFUL CLEANING AND WASHING TO READY THE SHELLS FOR THE NEXT PROCESS. INCIDENTALLY THE TOUGH MEAT OF THESE BIG PEARL OYSTERS CAN BE QUITE TASTY, IF IT'S COOKED JUST THE RIGHT WAY.

    A LAST WASH IN THE SEA AND THE SHELLS, WITH THEIR PRECIOUS BURDEN ARE READY FOR INSPECTION. FOR SIMPLICITY AND FOR FASTER PRODUCTION, MOST OF THE PEARLS BEING GROWN AT SERIBA ARE THE HALF PEARLS KNOWN AS IN THE TRADE BLISTER PEARLS.

    TO CLEAR THESE FROM THE SHELL, DENNIS GEORGE USES A HIGH SPEED DRILL, AND A HOLE SAW ATTACHMENT; THIS WAY THE REST OF THE SHELL CAN BE SOLD AS MOTHER OF PEARL. WHEN THE YOUNG GREEK MIGRANT FIRST BEGAN PORING OVER BOOKS ON PEARL CULTURE AT THE MITCHELL LIBRARY IN NINETEEN FORTY NINE IT WAS THE BEGINNING OF A LONG ROAD THAT WAS TO TAKE HIM TO CAIRNS, COOKTOWN THURSDAY ISLAND; THE UNINHABITED PACKE ISLAND OFF QUEENSLAND WHERE WE FIRST PRODUCED GOOD PEARLS IN NINETEEN FIFTY SEVEN; TO BURMA, THE PHILIPPINES, MEXICO AND ISRAEL, AS ADVISOR.

    NOW IT'S THE PEARL FARMERS OF MILNE BAY ??? ARE BENEFITING FROM EXPERIENCE THAT BUILT ONE CULTURED PEARL INDUSTRY IN QUEENSLAND THAT HELPED TO SHAPE A STILL SUCCESSFUL PEARL ENTERPRISE IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA.

    SINCE DENNIS GEORGE CAME TO SERIBA ABOUT 10 YEARS AGO THE INFANT INDUSTRY HERE HAS HAD SLOW BEGINNINGS, HAMPERED HE SAYS BY LACK OF A GOVERNMENT SUBSIDY.

    BUT NOW IT'S PRODUCING SUPERB PEARLS LIKE THESE, AND SELLING THEM SUCCESSFULLY ON THE WORLD MARKET TO COUNTRIES LIKE GERMANY, FRANCE, SOUTH AMERICA, THE UNITED STATES, EVEN JAPAN ITSELF, AT PRICES SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER THAN THE JAPANESE PRODUCT.

    WELL, WHERE DOES THE PEARL INDUSTRY OF MILNE BAY GO FROM HERE? I HAD THIS INTERVIEW WITH DENNIS GEORGE.

    TAKE IN DENNIS GEORGE INTERVIEW.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    VLVA7AU2EMFWFC4FA93P8717LFIW8
    Media URN:
    VLVA7AU2EMFWFC4FA93P8717LFIW8
    Group:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
    Archive:
    Reuters
    Issue Date:
    01/01/1977
    Sound:
    Unknown
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Stock:
    Colour
    Duration:
    00:07:32:00
    Time in/Out:
    /
    Canister:
    N/A

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