310 THE PEARL TRADER
be economically run. The aim of every owner of a culture-station,
therefore, has been and is to produce pearls of an appreciable size,
the larger the better. Quality, as I have shown, is impossible to
produce by rule. But size is really the one quality which can be
fairly, if not perfectly accurately, determined by the dimensions of
the artificially introduced core.
this be kept within reasonable bounds and in keeping with the small
size of the Japanese pearl-oyster, then the oyster has a fair chance of
covering it satisfactorily with the nacre. But that takes time. It is a
question of years, and the process, being natural, cannot be hastened.
And the longer it takes, of course, the greater the cost of production.
only speeding-up process available is to increase the size of the core.
But by the insertion of too large a core, which cannot be adequately
covered, the nacreous layers will be so thin that, to use a commonplace
expression, the pearl will resemble nothing so much as a sugar-coated
pill; and since luster is first of all the result of many layers, the
pearl, for all its size, will be dull and worthless. It will crack
easily and deteriorate almost at once, somewhat after the manner of a
poorly proofed raincoat.
am using these similes to bring forcibly home to the uninitiated the
fact that the cultured pearl as produced nowadays is a make-believe
and a sham, and that the nearer she is intended to approximate to
natural beauty, the freer hand must nature be allowed in her
fashioning. If the extraneous matter introduced by man were just a
minute particle to serve as irritant, and if time were allowed to do
the rest—the obliging oyster would probably yield to the culture-beds
no smaller a percentage of fine pearls than she does now to the natural
apart from all these considerations, those who buy pearls in preference
to fine paste copies want them for their rareness as much as for the
qualities that meet the eye. A pearly heart as well as a pearly cloak
is desired. The genuine