Fiji-made: the secret behind Savusavu’s sustainable pearls
JHunter’s Sustainable Pearls
Justin Hunter – the man behind the brand - didn’t set out to change the world. He simply wanted a way to merge his passion for the ocean and aquaculture in a place that he loved. So he started a small pearl farm in Savusavu, a laid-back coastal town in northern Fiji.
For the pearler, marine stewardship makes good business sense because fussy filter-feeding oysters demand clean water to produce fine pearls. But it’s JHunter’s early partnership with local village communities that make this story special.
In addition to ocean licensing fees, the company trains, supplies pearl seed and buys the mature pearls back from local villages. The result of this unique collaboration is sustainable income for villagers and even more reason for people to keep the bay clean. Locals are also seeing benefits from the pearl farm’s marine protected area (MPA) with boosted ‘spillover’ fish stocks along its borders.
Hunter calls it a circular blue economy – a sustainable business model that manages to be economically, socially and environmentally beneficial all at once.
And it’s the model behind his latest labour of love – the Blue Pledge for Sustainable Pearls. JHunter Pearls have taken their model global joining other like-minded international pearl farmers to adopt ethical and environmental practices. They have big dreams to transform the entire pearling industry through their philosophy and maybe get people to care about ocean and climate change issues as much as they do.
Farm Tours & Showroom Pearls
A lot goes into pearl culture. You can find out how they’re made on one of the JHunter Pearl farm tours.
The tour starts out with a short showroom brief before you head out on the bay to observe the farm’s daily activities. These change by season. So you could watch the local women as they collect oyster spat, load the oyster lines or clean and check their health. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to catch skilled pearl technicians implant and harvest the pearls from the oysters. That only happens twice a year in April/May and October/November.
Bring some snorkelling gear and a towel along with you. One of the tour’s highlights is the chance to swim alongside the suspended oyster lines and over a giant clam nursery.
The tour ends where it began; at the showroom where you can view or buy some of these rare beauties to take home with you.
The JHunter showroom is located on Savusavu’s main street. Any local should be able to point it out.
Farm Tours: Monday – Friday (@9.30am & @1.30pm). except national holidays. Grab some friends to come along; the tour needs 4-10 people for it to run. Discounts apply for children between 5-12years old.
Showroom: Monday – Friday (8.30am – 4.00pm). Saturday (9.00am – 1.00pm).
Visit www.fijipearls.com for more information.
Book farm tours or private showroom viewings ahead of time.
J Hunter Pearls are available in their showroom, online and at selected local boutiques. Keep your receipts to claim VAT refunds on your pearl purchase at the Nadi airport before you fly home.
You can have your jewellery customised if you buy direct from their showroom in Savusavu.