Once out of pond, the mussels obtained are kept in a tray of water so that they don’t die from lack of moisturePhotographs by: Ravleen Kaur
After the substance forms around the nucleus, pearls emerge in various shapes like these. Each pearl is attached to the shell. The pearl is then cut from the shell to give it a proper shape.Photographs by: Ravleen Kaur
The shell is opened a little with tweezers and held in the open position by another equipment. Opening the shell more than one centimeter can result in mortality as the animal inside is attached to the joint mussels on one side.Photographs by: Ravleen Kaur
Machines are also used for cutting. The final design pearl is usually plated in silver or gold for selling.Photographs by: Ravleen Kaur
The tissue layer of the animal is removed a little from the shell with the help of a spatula. The artificial nucleus has to be inserted in the mussel.Photographs by: Ravleen Kaur
Lamellaedense marginelis, a species of the fresh water mussel, is most suited for pearl culture. The animal has a jelly-like foot which projects out of the shell, when it needs to feed. Here, you can see a white part of foot protruding from the shell.Photographs by Ravleen Kaur
The artificial nucleus is imported from China. Pre-designed nuclei in various shapes, are also made in Cuttack, Orissa.Photographs by: Ravleen Kaur
The bigger mussel shells are deeper in the water. Here, Pandit Dinanath is seen collecting the mussels from a shallow sand bank. The mussels feed on micro-algae, which are ingested through filtration process. Sometimes, sand particles or other foreign bodies are also ingested. If the mussel is unable to expel these, they get stuck to the shell. A layer of shiny substance keeps forming over that. This is what we call the natural pearlPhotographs by: Ravleen Kaur
The shell is shut after inserting the nucleus and labeled. The shell is then put in a net. The net is left hanging from a bamboo pole in the water so that the mussels survive normally and any movement, which would expel the nucleus out, is avoided.Photographs by: Ravleen Kaur
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