Our visit to Lombok last November was very different than most of our trips. For the first time in months we didn’t have an agenda and we were just ready to relax and enjoy the idyllic beaches, fantastic food and gorgeous views. So after two days of doing just that, I started to get itchy and ready to explore this fabulous island.
When I went to visit the Pearl Lady in Jakarta she shared with us that most of her local semi-precious pearls were cultivated in Lombok. I knew Lombok was famous for pearl cultivation and thought we could try to visit a pearl farm. A few minutes speaking to the concierge in our awesome hotel later we were Pearl Farm bound and ready to discover how the beautiful spheres are cultivated.
Although there were several Pearl Farms in the area we were encouraged to visit the Autore Pearl Farm. After a fabulous short ride full of gorgeous views of the beaches and mountains we arrived at our destination. We felt like we had just entered a magazine article. The ocean was the most beautiful shades of blue and the main office was in a nice little hut that made us feel like we had just arrived in paradise.
As soon as we entered the main store and offices we were greeted by a wonderful staff who was ready to show us the farm and their processes, kiddos in tow, and all. We paid 180,000 Rp. per adult for the tour. The kids didn’t have to pay a fee.
So we started our tour aware that the kids were very likely to get bored a few minutes later. Boy were we glad we were wrong. Our fabulous tour guide was super friendly and was eager to explain the process to Evan and Josh. Naturally Josh was all over the place more interested in digging in the sand and finding random pieces of shells but Evan was actually quite interested and eager to discover what this place was all about.
Our first stop in the tour was right outside the cultivation chambers. The guide talked about how long the process actually is and showed us different aged oysters. It was quite incredible to see that in fact it takes them years to grow to the right size to be usable.
After realizing how much work is put into cultivating one single oyster and using this opportunity to see how Evan’s comparative skills were (which is bigger?, which is the biggest?) we headed inside where we were introduced to the genesis of the baby oysters. At the lab we saw huge tanks of what seemed to be simple water but in fact was a special formula whose aim was to foster the growth of millions of microscopic baby oysters. We were able to see the tiny baby oysters thriving in the water although they only look like speckles. We were told that the glitter-sized baby oysters have to be in a controlled environment in order to survive and that marine biologists supervise every single change in temperature and nutrient measure in order for them to actually make it.
After looking at the tiny oysters in the lab with a microscope we were led to a very cold room where the oysters aliment is grown and kept. Oysters consume plankton and according to their age the kind of formula they have to eat. Each of the containers was thoroughly controlled and any changes to the contents was recorded carefully. We realized how much thought and work is put into each tiny oyster and appreciated the value of the pearls.
After we were done exploring the lab, we headed outside again and were able to see pearl-cultivation in action. The pearl expert was showing us how each oyster is used to create a pearl. In essence the process consists of inserting a tissue graft from a donor oyster, upon which a pearl sac forms, and the inner side covers the graft with nacre creating a gorgeous luster. We were awestruck to find out that they have to do this process one by one and understood why some of this little spheres can be so costly.
The pearl cultivator was kind enough to let Evan give him a hand. Of course I was nervous that we would drop the pearl of hand it to Joshua who in turn would say “andy, andy (candy)” and gulp it right in. Fortunate none of this happened and Evan was very excited to be able to partake on this experience.
Visiting this Pearl Farm was an awesome experience! I am so happy that we were able to see how the oysters are cultured and how the tiny little molluscs eventually grow into huge shells that create gorgeous pearls. If you have little ones just let the staff know when they are getting tired and they will go at your pace you will see that everyone will appreciate the tour. After all, you really want your little boys to know how to pick the right piece of jewelry for mother’s day (or gulp, their future girlfriend).
- The tour takes about an hour and a half. They are usually quite flexible and will let you stay in whichever area you like the best for as long as you want.
- There are some areas that have very hot water and other dangerous items. Just make sure your little ones keep their hands to themselves in those areas.
- The shop is amazing, but it is a bit pricey. The pieces or jewelry are incredible and they are all exclusively designed for Autore, but you will pay for it. The titanium-pearl necklace I wanted was just too expensive for me to buy then and there but I still daydream of it! Hint hint, hubby…..
- If you rent a car for the day or a taxi ask them to wait for you. Since the farm is not on the main road it might be challenging to find a taxi from there.
T: +62 3706 41740