Kamoka Pearls & the Los Angeles Times
Portland, Ore. Writer and pearl farmer Celeste Brash recently landed the ultimate assignment: writing about riding out the pandemic from her family’s Kamoka pearl farm in French Polynesia. A friend who works for the Los Angeles Times follows her on Twitter and was loving her tweets from the Ahe atoll—so much so that he asked her to write something about her experience. She happily obliged.
“I really loved writing it, partly because it’s rare to be assigned something more narrative oriented and less service-y,” she explains. “I love writing about Ahe descriptively—the images flow out and write themselves. I did veer away from talking about the pearls too much since that wasn’t the focus of the piece, but of course that’s what we’re here for so I got in some details!”
Click the photo to read her story.
Oysters in Massachusetts
Boston, Mass. Theresa Baybutt of Treasure Bay Jewelry loves not only her pearl-producing oysters but also the Eastern oysters that are native to the shorelines of Massachusetts where she lives. That’s why she’s been an active board member of the Massachusetts Oyster Project, an all-volunteer nonprofit whose goal is to strengthen the coastal environment by restoring native shellfish populations to beaches and estuaries. “Through oyster cultivation, shell recycling, education, and advocacy we can improve water quality, increase the diversity of sea life and mitigate the effects of climate change,” according to the group. Not surprisingly, oyster populations have been affected by ocean acidification, pollution, and boating, among other culprits.
A friend tapped Baybutt to volunteer because of her interest in pearls and love of the ocean, and she has been fundraising and doing hands-on work for the group since 2011. In 2022, she becomes president.
Baybutt’s knowledge of and passion for restoring Eastern oyster populations is as robust as her affinity for fine pearls. Besides serving as an edible treat, she says, Eastern oysters in reef formations provide protection and food for upwards of 200 sea creatures and plants. Their shells comprise calcium carbonate, which helps balance the pH of the water, and perhaps most importantly, “Oysters can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day—they are our ocean’s natural water filter,” she explains.
Specific activities of the Project include growing oysters from spat to release back into the ocean in early fall. The oysters grow in above-ground tanks called upwellers, and to date more than 1.5 million oysters have been released into the water, though the Project hopes to add another million over the next three years.
Volunteers also recycle oyster shells from restaurants and large events to drop back in the ocean—a move that removes them from landfills and makes them useful again. “Oysters grow best and reproduce more successfully on other oyster shells,” says Baybutt.
Project volunteers like Baybutt also survey oyster sites to check progress and count oyster numbers to determine survival and reproduction rates. “We can do this by establishing a grid-sectioned area and counting how many oysters are in the area,” she says.
Interested parties can also visit grow sites—located in Gloucester, Hyannis, Marblehead, and Nantucket, Mass.—during the summer months. Check the Project’s website for more information.
Baby Eastern oysters
Theresa Baybutt of Treasure Bay Jewelry and a volunteer for the Massachusetts Oyster Project releasing baby oysters into the Mill River in Ipswich, Mass.
Shahana Jewels & CIBJO
Auckland, New Zealand. New CPAA member Shahana Kimiangatau of Shahana Jewels was recently selected to participate in a panel organized by the World Jewellery Federation. The topic? Up-and-comers in jewelry. To wit, Jewellery’s New Generation More Diverse, Independent & Out of the Box took place online on April 8, 2021 but is available to watch in full above. Participants were selected for their first-generation jeweler status but also because of their different journeys to market and unique points of view.
Kimiangatau was also recently profiled on JenniferHeebner.com. Read the article by clicking here.