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Grafting: A Delicate Operation

Grafting: A Delicate Operation

The modern practice of pearl culturing is both a practiced art and an exacting science. The process of implanting the materials around which a pearl will form requires delicate surgery on the mollusk. Specially trained professionals known as grafters insert nuclei and tissue grafts into anesthetized mollusks with the help of scalpels, clamps and antibiotics. The expertise of the grafters--like that of surgeons--is crucial. They must work quickly to prevent the animals from dehydrating during the operation and also accurately to prevent excessive bleeding. In some countries, pearl companies carefully track their employees' proficiency by recording the quality of pearls produced by the mollusks nucleated by each grafter.

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