In the early 20th century, pearl diving was the most common method to harvest oysters for their pearls. It takes searching though nearly one ton of oysters to find only three or four perfect, round pearls, making pearls very valuable.
In Japan, pearl divers were traditionally women called Ama, which means "sea woman." In the early years, pearl divers performed "free dives," which were limited to the length of time and depth that one could hold their breath.
Women as Better Divers
Women are considered better pearl divers by many and although the reason and theories vary, according to anthropologist Bethany Grenald, "women are able to conserve heat better in the severe cold stresses faced in the ocean."
As pearls became harder to find, new pearl diving techniques were developed. Diving suits and breathing apparatuses allowed for deeper and longer dives. As many as 2,000 individuals worked as pearl divers at this time. Mother of pearl was used to manufacture buttons for shirts.
Pearl Diving Today
Pearl diving in the open ocean in 2009 has been supplemented and replaced by the commercial farming of oysters. Farming of oysters allows for the industry to be able to supply the world with the pearls they desire and helps to prevent the oysters' extinction.
Article Written By Michelle Nesbit
Michelle Nesbit started her writing career in 1999, when she wrote "The Title Searcher's Handbook." Nesbit has written for The Chattanoogan, Healthmad and several clients who secure her services as a ghostwriter. Nesbit's background includes licenses in Insurance, certification as a Rescue and Technical Scuba Diver, Underwater Photographer, and a clinical hypnotherapist. Nesbit is currently completing studies as a clinical nutritionist.