When we heard about the Pearl farm tours in the Central Coast, it piqued our interest, for I am a lover of pearls. Since I was given a string for my 21st birthday; they have been a favoured jewellery feature of mine.
Pearls of Australia are a company comprised of Broken Bay Pearl Farm (NSW) and Cygnet Bay Pearls (WA). In WA they have more of a tropical species, producing the iconic white pearls. Whereas, in NSW the waters are more subtropical, leading to a smaller thinner shell and pearls with more colours.
Broken Bay Pearl farm, which we visited is NSW’s only pearl farm. It has seemingly been a hot secret, for we, nor many of our friends knew that it existed. It is located in Woy Woy, just an hour north of Sydney and it has been operating there for approximately 15 years, but only recently have opened tours. At Broken Bay Pearl farm, they cultivate Akoya pearls from the Pinctada fucata oyster. These pearls are rare and of high quality.
This Pearl Farm was founded by Ian and Rose Criso and joined by the Brown Family in 2017. Pearl Farmer and marine biologist James Brown is third generation pearl farmer and he decided open the pearl farm in Cygnet Bay (2 hours north of Broome) for the public to experience pearling. He later bought into the Broken Bay pearl farm to do the same here in NSW.
We visited Broken Bay Pearl farm to take a tour of their farm. The tour begins from the Woy Woy Scout hall, where you are greeted and offered a tea and a biscuit whilst hearing a presentation from Celeste on the history of pearl farming and also a bit about Pearls of Australia. The history lesson was a great way to begin, for we found this so informative on the history of pearls.
We then hopped on the boat for a cruise on the scenic waterways and learnt about how to cultivate and find pearls. Pearl farmer Steve was excellent. He was very knowledgeable on all things oysters and pearls and we learnt so much. It was well suited to any crowd. Our tour had a mix of ages, from a grandmother, to a young couple and a family. Even the children were enthralled.
After an 1 hour, we return to land to learn how to grade the pearl. This is based on their virtues (similar concept to grading diamonds) which are:
- Lustre (light bouncing off the pearl’s surface)
- Surface (smooth, rough, lumps, lines etc)
- Shape (the more symmetrical, the more valuable)
- Size (as size increases, the value of the pearl does too)
- Colour (the rarity of the colour makes it more valuable)
- Purity (untreated and un-enhanced to keep them authentic)
- Provenance (knowing where they are from)
This teaches you why some develop differently and why some are more expensive than others.
You have the opportunity to then purchase pearls directly from the farm. This is great, for you can buy the specific pearls you like and know of their authenticity. We like that we did not feel pressured to buy.
We found this be an incredible trip and so glad we had the opportunity to experience it.
The tour operates on Thursdays and Saturday, departing 10am and 1pm and costs $85 for adults, $75 for seniors and $40 for children. There’s also group tours available upon request.
The duration of the tour is 2 hours (1 hour cruise and 1 hour land based). It wonderful to learn first hand from pioneers of the industry. It is entertaining, educational and personalised.
They are also going to open a “Shellar Door” soon in Mooney Mooney where you can see the local rock oyster industry, take tours, boat rides, purchase pearls and taste oysters on the Hawkesbury River.
Perfect for a unique experience and would be a great gift for a friend or family.
for more information on the tour or the area, see visitcentralcoast.com.au
The coupon code will be NOVEMBERPEARLS
The 10% off is for the tour cost, for tours that take place in November 2019 only.
Terms and conditions can be found on their website (above).