The Red Sea has a history rich in pearling and if the political climate weren’t so delicate over the years, I believe it could have developed into a serious commercial source. It happens to be the native habitat of the Pinctada margaritifera subspecies erythraensis. To put that into context, Tahitian pearls are grown in Pinctada margaritiera cumingii, and Fijian pearls in Pinctada margaritifera typica. These are all subspecies of the black-lipped pearl oyster.
Pearl farming has been attempted there twice. The first time was in 1962, when a Japanese first set up on a farm in Dungunab Bay in Sudan. It closed just a few years later.
The more recent attempt was in 1997, when Australians Rosario Autore and William Reed founded a farm in the same bay. Pearls were produced for several years, but this farm met the same fate.
All the pearls produced 20 years ago were sold to only one firm – in GERMANY! That same firm, the Michael Bonke Company from Deggendorf, was presenting at the show. They had just a few strands remaining. We brought home two!
Read more about the Red Sea pearls on our blog.