J Hunter Pearls
Pearling in Fiji – and the Pacific – owes a lot to two Japanese gentlemen Mr. Tokito and Mr. Wada, who arrived in the 1960s to set up a pearl farm off the island of Ovalau, the site of Fiji’s first capital Levuka. Mr. Wada, a pearling technican by trade, left soon after for French Polynesia, where he was instrumental in starting the first pearl farm. Mr. Tokito remained in Fiji, where his family still farms pearls to this day.
Some three decades later, Justin Hunter returned home to Fiji from the United States to establish J. Hunter Pearls Fiji in 1999. “The idea was to produce pearls in beautifully distinctive hues and that were also larger than what was traditionally grown,” he says. Today, despite a small yearly output, those pearls have put the brand – as well as Fiji – on the world pearling map.
Since its inception, J. Hunter Pearls has worked in close partnership with local communities on Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second largest island, to produce its prized pearls, thereby ensuring that the benefits are spread all around. In addition to paying yearly leases to traditional fishing rights owners where the company’s two pearl farms are located in Savusavu and Kioa, the company provides much needed jobs for local people and scholarships to deserving students. This gives them the resources to improve their villages whilst still retaining their traditional way of life.
PRESERVING THE ENVIRONMENT
A big part of the brand’s philosophy and day-to-day business practice is the protection and preservation of the natural environment – the source of J. Hunter’s astounding pearls. To ensure the nutrient rich bays stay pristine, the company adheres to a strict environmental code of practice, which has had the added benefit of increasing fish stocks for local communities, who rely on fisheries for food and income.
J. Hunter Pearls has come a long way from its very humble beginnings on a remote coastal township in the South Pacific. Today, it can be found alongside some of the leading luxury jewellery brands worldwide. And we like to think the beauty of our pearls is more than skin deep. For, besides their unique, natural hues – unmatched anywhere in the pearling world – it is the story of how they are grown that truly sets them apart.
(ECOP) is to ensure company operations are conducted in a manner that minimizes negative environmental aspects, maximizes positive impacts and demonstrates our organization’s commitment to being good stewards of the seas. We believe this can only be accomplished through a comprehensive evaluation of the environmental impacts associated with pearl farming in light of current trends in community and shoreline development, increased demand for limited resources, water quality degradation, and changes in social/political attitudes.
Our vision is to establish a Fiji Pearling Industry that will provide an expanding job market and will offer benefits to our communities. The industry goal is to produce some of the rarest and most exquisite pearls in the world, and to also be responsible in promoting and protecting our unique marine environment and the communities that share them.Our pearl farming activities are based in Savusavu Bay, and Buca Bay, Vanua Levu, in the Republic of the Fiji Islands.