OUR PEARLS ARE INTRINSICALLY SUSTAINABLE
Pearls are the only rare and precious gem on the planet today born within a living organism – the oyster.
One of our highest mandates is the education of our audiences towards the many miraculous benefits that this incredible creation can have on both people and planet, when grown with the highest possible standards of ethical care.
GUARDIANS OF THE OCEAN
In 2009, we made an industry changing decision to open the doors of our pearl farms to the public – to what was previously a very secretive industry. Our aim was to create transparency around the nature and cultivation of the finest and most sustainable pearls and connect people to the amazing places in which our pearls grow.
Today, we welcome over 10,000 excited visitors a year to our farms. They become completely immersed and positively enriched in the many facets of the Australian pearling story, from it’s ancient beginnings to today’s modern pearl farming techniques.
After spending the past decade watching what was once a thriving Australian industry almost completely disappear, one of our greatest privileges has been to help create new opportunities for Australian pearl farmers. We do this by engaging in an entirely new way with the next generation of pearl appreciators, delving into the many incredible facets of this rare and precious gem.
Guardians of the Ocean
EVERY HECTARE OF OYSTER REEF (PER YEAR) WOULD:
litres of seawater.
of nitrogen and phosphate.
of new fish to catch and eat.
Provide new homes for
of carbon (equivalent to the average emissions of 2 cars).
Studies provided by The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
THE POWER OF POSITIVE PEARLING
Pearling provides multiple services to surrounding ecosystems and communities. This includes employment, education and empowerment for people and extends to the protection of mangroves, seagrass and salt-marsh, the most efficient carbon sequestration substrates (‘blue carbon sinks’) on the planet.
The core and co-benefits of pearling makes it a natural partner to the ‘blue economy’, actively improving the lives of the communities and areas we work in, creating jobs and opportunities, working hard to harness renewable energies, actively cleaning up marine litter and pollution that flows through our farm areas, and helping to conserve marine life and our oceans. The wild pearl shell fishery in Australia is the only responsible and certified gem fishery in the world (certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, MSC).
A closer look at the science of blue carbon
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
To grow the world’s most exceptional pearls, we must ensure that the quality of the pristine waterways in which we grow our pearls, are maintained with the highest possible standards of care. Since 1990, the known surface area of our ocean has increased in temperature by one degree Celsius due to early onset climate change. Not surprisingly since that time, our fragile pearling industry has seen a dramatic decline in pearl production.
A pearl farm is a marine research centre by nature, and this is enhanced by our Kimberley Marine Research Station (KMRS) which facilitates independent research to help understand the environments in which our pearls grow. Cutting edge research such as our oyster breeding programs and partnerships with leading universities including James Cook, Macquarie and the University of WA helps us bridge the gap between the heartaches of the past and the pearl farm prosperities of the future.
Our passion for pearl provenance and industry-wide transparency around the production of pearls has also compelled us to tread new and innovative ground by establishing, alongside our friends at Everledger, the worlds first blockchain based provenance proof for pearls. This means that the pearl consumers of the future will have a certified way of knowing, without question, the quality and provenance of a pearl. In this way, our overarching goal of education and empowerment for pearl consumers around the world is becoming one important step closer to reality.
THE SACRED HISTORY OF PEARLING
For over 40,000 years, The Bardi Jawi people of the Dampier Peninsula have harvested pearl shell. Not only was the shell an important and nutritious food source, but it was also incredibly culturally significant. These ancient artisans would carve the shell into a teardrop shape which is known as Guwan. They would then carve unique lines into the shell with kangaroo jawbone before staining it with red ochre. In this form it is known as Riji. The men would wear their Riji around the waist, on a belt of human hair, donated by aunties and sisters, during high ceremonies. Associated with power and great honour, these ancient artworks were traded over thousands of kilometres throughout central Australia. See images from past to present, with our modern day resident Riji artist Bruce Wiggan.
WHEN CULTURES UNITE
In 1960, we spearheaded Australia’s first trial harvest of cultured pearls, chartering a new course in pearling otherwise not known within Australia or rest of the world, outside of Japan. No cultured pearl farm in the world had ever successfully come to fruition without Japanese involvement. That all changed, thanks to the Brown family and their passionate dedication to a quest that was considered virtually impossible. From bark huts and handmade tools, the story of Australia’s cultured pearling pioneers begun. Lyndon Brown then trained and employed three local Bardi Jawi men – Tom Wiggan, Aubrey Tigan and Gordon Dixon – to also culture pearls and so the very first all Australian pearl farm was established on this very raft at Cygnet Bay, The Kimberley.
Save the Children
A passionate advocate for Indigenous rights, James Brown was named an Ambassador to Save the Children, in recognition of his time assisting young Aboriginal children throughout the Dampier Peninsula communities.
Cygnet Bay created a co-branded range of jewellery featuring the beautiful Save the Children motif. A percentage of sales goes directly to the program that provides early childhood education and parent support services to Dampier Peninsula communities where facilities and services struggle to ‘close the gap’ in outcomes for Aboriginal children.
“After generations of pearling in the remote Kimberley, I have witnessed firsthand the turbulent journey of the Aboriginal people, my oldest friends. Partnering with Save The Children means our efforts will directly help our local kids realise opportunities that every Australian should have.”
– James Brown
Lustre: Pearling & Australia is an extensive highly acclaimed exhibition that explores the gritty human story of pearling. It weaves together intersecting strands of Aboriginal, Asian and European histories to reveal insights into one of Australia’s oldest industries.
Since it’s inception, Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm has proudly been the major industry sponsor of this highly acclaimed Lustre Exhibition.
It is an essential and rare body of work that has been received incredibly well across Australia. The success of the resulting book, Lustre: Pearling in Australia, is a testament to the importance of this exhibition.
2018 State Arts and Culture Partnership Honours: Aboriginal Arts partnerships for Lustre (with the Western Australian Museum)
2017 MAGNA Award: Travelling exhibition – Lustre: Pearling and Australia National Tour
Take 3 for the Sea
Plastic pollution is killing wildlife, devastating oceans and threatening the health of our planet. Plastic represents a disconnection because it’s a material designed to last forever but is often used only once. Poorly managed plastic disposal leaks into the sea as the ocean is downhill from everywhere.
Through education that inspires participation, Take 3 is building a global movement of people who are connected to the planet.
Broken Bay Pearl Farm regularly participates in Take 3 events such as the CEO Clean up which helps raise funds to deliver vital education programs in schools, surf clubs and communities around Australia.
Take 3 pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach, waterway or … anywhere, and you have made a difference.