April 2024

Small Scale Freshwater Pearls Production in
Kasumi-ga-Ura Area, Japan


Most vistors to pacificpearls.us, kojimapearl.com, pacificpearls.info and kasumipearls.com are familiar with the very small freshwater pearl production that, in 1994, rose from the ashes of the Japan;s freshwater pearl industry. While nowhere the size of its saltwater counterpart, it employed more than a thousand people in the 1960s to the mid 1980's, when it came to a halt due to environmental pollution.


On 24 April 2024, a live streaming event, hosted by pearlparadise.com, went on location in Tsuchiura, Ibaragi Prefecture, Japan to visit Kiyoshi Yoneguchi, reportedly the last active freshwater pearl cultivator in Japan.


The 3-hour video, featuring macro-lens closeups of pearls being discussed, is available on the Pearl Paradise website.


"The rarest Freshwater Pearls in the World" would not be my choice of words, as traditional sources of natural freshwater pearls, eg Scotland or Bavaria, still might yield truly rare specimens. But it is true that, among pearl cultivations, one man working alone must be one of the smallest, and the volume produced extremely scarce.

I am impressed by Pearl Paradise CEO Jeremy Sheppard's efforts to educate jewelers and consumers alike in the nature of pearls, and the leading position his company has attained is no doubt due partly to this, and partly because he gives the public what it demands. A certain degree of hyperbole, I have learned, is required.

His wife Hisano Sheppard, and Sarah Canizzaro, who has worked with Japan Kasumi pearls, as we call them, since their vestigial second wind,
are the emcees of this event, and offer for sale through pearlparadise.com, some strictly Japan origin pearls sourced from this area.

Pacific Pearls, founded 1951 in Tokyo and operating in Hong Kong since 1970, has a long history of introducing freshwater pearls to European and American customers. In California since 1989, we have imported mostly freshwater pearls of all kinds, including Japan Kasumi pearls when they became available, on a small scale, in the 1990's.

Keenly following the development of Chinese pearls, particularly of large bead nucleated varieties, Pacific Pearls has sold many more Chinese pearls than the scarce Japan Kasumi. Aware that many China origin pearls were re-exported from Japan, an otherwise sold stating or implying Japan origin, sometimes by vendors who believed them to be (eg Schoeffel, in Germany) we have made a point of describing every pearl we sell with its true provenance.

Further, we describe the particular cultivation method, as well as we were able to learn it by distilling the explanations given by a plethora of Hong Kong importers. Specialized as we are in unusual pearls, we don't carry many commodity items.

I hope you can participate in the live event, and that my friends can interest and entertain you.

The link to current and past events is: here.
Best regards,
Fuji Voll