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.