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Articles from PEARL JEWELLERY (353 Articles), PEARLS - LOOSE WHITE SOUTH SEA (15 Articles)










Willie Creek Pearl Farm has been granted a licence to farm Australian South Sea pearl off the coast of Broome, WA
Willie Creek Pearl Farm has been granted a licence to farm Australian South Sea pearl off the coast of Broome, WA

Australia gains new South Sea pearl producer

For the first time in about two decades, another business has been added to the ‘exclusive’ group of South Sea pearl producers in Western Australia.

Broome-based business Willie Creek Pearl Farm was recently granted a pearling licence and acquired pearl shell quota previously held by Autore Group – a pearl producer with which it had established a strong working relationship over many years.

Under the previous arrangement with Autore, Willie Creek had access to a quota of shell owned by one of Autore’s businesses, Clipper Pearls, for use in its pearl farming tours. Willie Creek’s involvement in the pearl production process, however, was limited to harvesting.

Willie Creek general manager Paul Birch said the purchase of the licence meant the business could gain more control of its pearling operations and responsibility over a greater number of shell.

Paul Birch, Willie Creek Pearl Farm general manager
Paul Birch, Willie Creek Pearl Farm general manager

Willie Creek general manager Paul Birch said the purchase of the licence meant the business could gain more control of its pearling operations and responsibility over a greater number of shell.

He added that this was the first time that changes to one of the 17 pearling licences available across WA had been granted in recent history.

“Willie Creek has now become one of only four commercial Australian South Sea pearl producers operating, with Autore, Paspaley Pearls and Cygnet Bay Pearls being the other three in the Broome region,” Birch explained.

While Birch acknowledged that the venture involved a degree of risk given Willie Creek was primarily a tourism business, he said the opportunity also offered rewards.

“This is a challenge we are prepared to face as we are confident (and want to be an integral part of the industry ensuring) that Broome will continue to be known as the ‘pearling capital of the world’ – the best place to come and learn about pearling and to buy your pearls,” he commented.

Using a combination of existing Autore and Clipper infrastructure and technical expertise as well as its own, Birch said Willie Creek expected to harvest and reseed approximately 10,000 shells in 2016.

Although considered a relatively small volume in the context of the wider Australian pearling industry, Birch explained that this was “significant” for Willie Creek as the business had previously sourced pearls from other producers for use in its jewellery collection.

The business sells pearl jewellery in five Willie Creek-branded retail showrooms in WA, as well as through several other retail stockists across the state and in Melbourne.

“We will now be able to produce a far greater quantity of pearls under our own licence and reduce the need to supplement our pearl requirements by sourcing from elsewhere,” he said.

Birth added that the decision on whether the business would supply loose pearl to the jewellery industry would depend on the results of its harvest in July next year.

The Banfield family currently owns Willie Creek Pearl Farm. Originall










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