Jewelry artist Koji Kawamoto presents pearl work at Karats
From the time he was a young boy in Mie Prefecture, a small village in Japan, Koji Kawamoto worked with his family harvesting pearls. Even as a young man, his love of the gems and innate talent for creating unique jewelry was evident. These days, his expert knowledge of pearls makes him a noted jewelry designer whose work is coveted worldwide.
“We believe pearls are amulets, which protect you and your family,” Kawamoto said.
“Pearls occur naturally when an outside agent like sand or a bone fragment become lodged inside a mollusk. The creatures secrete nacre, commonly known as mother-of-pearl, which engulfs the object. The layers of nacre eventually form a hard pearl within the mollusk’s shell,” CNN’s Ming Lou wrote in an article.
Climate change has put the pearl industry at risk, however. Polluted water often causes the oysters to die. And as much as pearl farmers try to keep their areas of cultivation clean and healthy, the quality of water is going down day by day due to the contamination. Oysters are fragile beings that can’t handle too much pressure and can endure only natural water movements. Extreme conditions such as floods are harmful to their existence. Drought also affects the cultivation of oysters, as water is the biological habitat of oysters.
Just like natural gas, iron and coal, oysters are a natural resource. In the past, marine biologists feared that the greatest threat to oysters was overharvesting. However, researchers and oyster farmers are now realizing how much climate change and pollution are threatening the world’s oyster populations, which are used not only for pearls but food as well.
And according to New Food Economy, scientists also discovered that the oysters were one of the first victims of ocean acidification, “a climate change-related process that is gradual lowering pH levels in the water that covers 97 percent of the earth.”
These oysters are clearly in danger And evidence from pearl farmers in the South Pacific shows that higher water temperatures are linked to higher mortality rates.
However, for pearl farmers, there is good news on the horizon. For instance, a team led by Joth Davis, a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is working to develop oysters that can thrive in a variety of locations and withstand disease and climate change through a special breeding process.
See New pearl designs today
Needless to say, Kawamoto is hopeful that a solution is found soon. Fortunately, this talented jewelry designer has, over the years, accumulated a number of exquisite Akoya pearls — his favorite — coveted for their perfectly round shape and brilliant shine. And in his latest celebrated designs, which are being shown at Karats in Vail, he has combined stones like sapphire and tourmaline with the exotic Akoya.
Kawamoto’s enthusiasm and love that he’s had for the Akoya pearl since first learning his craft in his village of Mia Prefecture is evident in every single piece of precious jewelry that he creates. And it is this joy that attracts his clients to his work.
Kawamoto’s new work will be featured at Karats in Vail Village today. The artist will be in attendance.
Annual fundraising ski day is Saturday, March 14.